Living thousands of miles away from those who hold my heart the tightest – the friends and family whom I never have to worry about connecting with because it comes automatically – my soul finds itself searching for another source of human connection. It’s as if something in my core is innately aware that I can’t do this things called life alone. So, here in east Africa, I’ve been working on finding new ways of connecting – repeatedly assessing my definition of human connection.
Maybe human connection is a topic you’ve talked about so much that it’s become that banal book report theme you had to write about all four years of High School English.
Maybe it has always seemed vague and intangible; to try to wrap your mind around it is far too reminiscent of your childhood attempts to sell cups of homemade lemonade in order to buy that shiny red bicycle from the toy-shop window – you were always just $100 short.
Maybe it’s always been packaged in fluff: laughter and love and relationships, rather than the raw edge with which you can empathize: insecurities and dependency and unmet expectations.
Maybe you feel like every time it’s brought up, it’s as if someone is trying to shove all things appreciation down your throat. And maybe this is something you want to consume on your own.
Maybe you’ve heard it too much. And now it’s boring. But, maybe you can’t hear it enough…
Maybe, in order to deepen and broaden and strengthen your relationship with yourself, others, and that something beyond you, it needs to be talked about. Over. And over.
I believe you care about humanity. And I believe you are aware of life outside of your world.
So maybe this blog post is more for me. Because I know that in the midst of my so-called ‘daily grind’, I become so distracted that the only connection taking place is the zapping of my brain waves – firing off at one another thousands of millions of times per minute. And, embarrassingly, these brain waves are often concentrated on me: my work, my food, my nails that need to be cut, and my sweaty walk home.
When I allow my mind spiral into itself – I clearly lose focus on anything other than, well…myself. I’m not able to see that which I can learn from, find peace in, connect to, be challenged be, seek solace in, and experience profound beauty.
Even looking up from my LED screen right now, I am struck by the fact that I have been sitting in my swirly chair in a square room with three other individuals – all of whom I have not even glanced at in over two hours!
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.” – MLK, Jr.
If I’m continually re-learning one thing, it’s this: Human connection is more than living in close proximity or appreciating one another’s commonalities. It requires looking up, speaking out, grasping a hand, sharing a taxi ride, eating together…acting as if I believe that what I do and think is connected to something, and someone, outside of me – because, dear people, it really is.
“The only difference between man and man all the world over is one of degree, and not of kind, even as there is between trees of the same species.” – Gandhi
Below are photos from the past 11 months that remind me of the incalculable beauty found only in human connection. My hope is that you can take the time to find ways to personally connect to each image and/or individual. (And I’d love if you shared your stories of connection in the comment section below!)