What is life? Here’s a possibility: life is mostly a bunch of connections. All kinds of connections, many of which we’re not aware of.
Some folks say, “I don’t want to be connected. Connections bring responsibilities, headaches, decisions to be made.” Is that how you feel? No problem, friend. Have it your way. Let us know how it goes.
All humans share the same beginning. We were all connected to someone for nine months or so before we were born. That was probably the happiest, all-purpose connection we’ll ever know. Many persons spend their lives wishing they could reestablish that connection.
But then, on our birth day, the connection – via the umbilical cord – was broken. Or snipped. Now we’re free, right? Not so fast. Suddenly we’re connected to an estimated 7 billion other residents of the earth, each of us breathing the same air.
Which brings us to today’s topic: Are you connected? Am I? If not, why not? If you feel you’re neither connected or unconnected, it’s no wonder.
On one side we have the psychotherapists and preachers saying “Get connected with others. Reach out. The world wants you and needs you. And you need others. They will help you find your purpose in life, the purpose that God, the news media, the advertising industry or Wall Street wants you to find and live by.”
But on the other hand we look around and see people young and old happily sitting on their buns staring at TV screens or looking at 24-square-inch digital phone encyclopedias and not giving a rat’s ass about getting connected with anyone else on earth.
When you witness the funerals of celebrities, with 700 mourners attending each one, do you ask yourself, “How many people will show up for my funeral? I know only six persons on earth, unless you count the friendly Armenian who runs that corner store in Pinellas Park. What’s wrong with me? Why am I not better connected? And how do I do that?”
First of all, ask yourself, “Do I really want or need to be well-connected? Am I genuinely unhappy with my simple life? If I had six dozen friends and neighbors piling into my living room each day to watch Jerry Springer or the PBS News Hour, would my heart swell with added contentment?”
The good news is that you don’t have to go to extremes to be – or feel – better connected. For openers, try looking at strangers squarely in the eye as you pass them on the street. Some foreign cultures consider it rude to do that. But Americans are lucky. Not only can we look a passerby in the eye, we can also say “Hello!” in a friendly sort of way.
This greeting may surprise or even frighten the person. But in many cases he or she will reply with his/her own greeting. The result: you both have made a connection, albeit a small one. You have shrunk the world. This is doubly so if the two persons are of different ages, genders or racial-ethnic backgrounds.
It makes no difference that you two will probably never cross paths again. What counts is that each of you may think, “That was nice. That felt good.” And you will have practiced Driver’s Law No. 315, which says “At least give it a try, pal.”
Connections form the framework of so much in life. Such as? Religion, government, love, sex, marriage, politics, teaching, ice hockey, child-rearing, on and on. Most of us are more connected than we realize. Others are more connected than we should be.
I’m writing this on Christmas Eve 2018. President Trump is sitting in the White House, tweeting, mostly alone. I’m glad my editor has not asked me to write a piece about what are Trump’s connections. We already know some of them. By the end of this year, Robert Mueller & Co. will probably have listed most of them.
To conclude: I wish a peaceful and prosperous 2019 to all the readers of this fine newspaper, including the 38 who faithfully read this column and occasionally tell me so. I value our connection more than I can say.