The Power Of Human Connection
The theme of human connection has been repeating itself so boldly the past few months that I just can't ignore writing about it.
When I was out in Naperville, IL, I got there before most of the participants of the NWMAF Special Training I was going to be attending. I needed the quiet for a few workdays, and I found myself eating alone.
While doing so, in an emptyish restaurant, I kept remarking to the waiter (I think he might have been one of the owners) how good the food was. A woman who overheard my comments stopped to chat as she was starting to leave with her take-out order. I told her she was going to enjoy her food.
She asked what I was doing in the area. I told her. It was a very pleasant chat and then she said, "Oh, I'm sorry for interrupting your meal," and started to leave. I called after her and said, "Never apologize for wanting some human connection."
And I meant it. She turned back and we kept talking a bit more.
Two days ago, I saw a meme that said something to the effect that talking to someone randomly was rude and inappropriate. Part of me, the one that understands the need for consent and sensitivity, and that not everyone likes being spoken to randomly,
agrees. A different part of me wants to scream out, "What have we become???" Are we so scared of human interaction that we are going to shift to a culture where stroking up a conversation with "strangers" is not appropriate?
Three months after my second child was born, I moved to a new neighborhood. Many of the moms would hang out with their kids after school at the sandbox, so I started to do that too. I met people, yes, but honestly, I didn't know anybody's last name. They were either "Esther's mom" or just a first name.
Within two months, the weather started to get cold and wet. No one was coming to the sandbox and I had no idea what to do. So one day, I saw one of the women in the group walking with her stroller in a direction that I knew wasn't towards her house, and I decided to follow her. She turned into a courtyard and then into a stairwell and then knocked and entered an apartment.
Five minutes later, I got up the courage to knock too. All of the sandbox friends were there drinking (spiked - but I won't admit that under duress) hot cocoa while their kids played in the living room. That was the beginning of two life-long friendships.
This evening, while walking the dogs, I needed to throw out a piece of gum that was getting too sticky too chew (yes, wonderful organic gum). Looking for a dumpster, my partner asked me "were you one of those kids who put your gum on the underside of the desk or chair?" Funny, but the answer was no.
What I did share was that I was one of those kids who would write a short note on the desk, or on the bathroom stall wall, and carry on an anonymous conversation with people who were in the same spot before or after I was.
So I guess this need for human connection is pretty strong for me.
While I know that not everyone is wired the same way, what if we agreed that it is just as ok to want to strike up a conversation as it is ok to say, "I'd rather not chat." And that both actions should be seen with respect and caring.
Let's not allow inappropriate people to ruin what could be absolutely wonderful conversations and connections.
Take a chance if you are moved to. Set a boundary if you need to. And don't be insulted if that happens.
It's all good, appropriate human interaction.
PS. If you think about it, desk/stall writing was the first real "listserve" accounts we had. 😀