Monday, October 21, 2013

Connecting, please wait

A dear colleague and friend of mind recently posted on Facebook that he wanted connection. I won't give his name. Not because I don't know it, but because it isn't important. You can go search Facebook for anyone who wants connection and figure it out.

I guess that that is part of the entire experience of life (and the underlying plea of Facebook users), to want connection. And I fear that the basic flaw is in the belief that everyone else HAS it and we are in some way missing out. The fact is (as far as I can see it and proclaim my personal read on life as fact) we all, or at least most of us crave connection. We are social animals. And while some of us are content to seclude ourselves in the woods and live on our own terms, we still want to connect. Think of everything you have read about individualism and self-reliance. Why was that even written? Because the Emersons and Thoreaus of the world wanted to feel that they connected with a reader to communicate an essential understanding. If someone really didn't want to connect, he wouldn't write.

And we don't just write because we have ideas that spill onto paper. Sure, some is like that. I have a shoebox in my closet with all sorts of stuff I have written and while I claim that my collection of poems, jokes and angry paragraphs is just so much venting, I secretly hope that my heirs discover it and I become the next Emily Dickinson. Dash, so there. In fact, I have made the printing of my collected works a requirement in my will so it isn't as much a secret hope as much as an overt attempt to force myself on the world.

Outside of writing (which I am doing right now, and hoping for readers so I will self-promote, all in an effort to connect with people), we all also want to connect. And we look at others and assume that they connect often because they have the trappings of connection. It could be a membership in a club, a spouse, a position as a nexus in a community, a poker game, siblings. Whatever it is, they have and I don't. But even those positions and what appear to be natural connections are all illusory. I know plenty of married people who are cripplingly lonely, plenty of sociable folks who always have a plan who feel isolated. Donne, as much as he was right, was also wrong. Every man is an island, constantly drifting (well, islands don't drift, but the image of every man being a dinghy isn't nearly as evocative) and constantly reaching out to latch on, however temporarily to other island/dinghies. [I don't think that before this, in my 44 years of life, I ever wrote the word "dinghies."]

As I see it, no one has connections. People only make connections and then remake them on a daily basis. I lived with a roommate in college -- same room and all that. Did we have a connection? Only in that we saw each other every day. When we didn't there was nothing. That isn't a criticism. That isn't a complaint. It is a fact. How many people are we ridiculously close with because we work with them or live next to them, and then we distance intervenes, we drift apart. This is life. People don't simply stay in love -- they have to fall back into love every day. That's why relationships are hard work. Friendships are exactly the same. If you don't hit F5 daily, the page grows stale, weary and flat.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't bemoan not recognizing connections. Most of us don't. we don't see the effect we have on others when we aren't there. We don't hear when they quote us when we aren't around or tell a story about us. We don't keep track of how much they miss us when we don't show up some where. But it all happens. We have more connections than we know and have to make more connections than we often have energy for. So we spend our lives often empty, but filling up the lives of others.

If it helps, you have made many connections, and ones which won't disappear even after they stop giving you the sense of wholeness that we all need and feed off of every day.

God, I hope someone reads this.


  1. I can't bear to see the words "No Comments" after this post. As Les Nesman would say - "The humanity!"

    I commented. now we're connected. As Mark Knopfler would say, "Boom,like that."

  2. Ah the lonely robot syndrome, (I named it myself). We all suffer from it. Well you could tell your friend, he is nothing more then a carbon bag of atoms with bio-electricity,in a vast universe. And while keeping that negative in mind, tell him to go out and connect with people, join a book club, volunteer somewhere and etc. I always believed if you want connection or friends you will find connections.
    I once quoted this to my mother

    'The basic fact about human existence is not that it is a tragedy, but that it is a bore. It is not so much a war as an endless standing in line. The objection to it is not that it is predominantly painful, but that it is lacking in sense.' Menken

    To which she stated, wow that sounds like waiting for life to happen to you. Go out and happen to life.


Feel free to comment and understand that no matter what you type, I still think you are a robot.