About a thousand years ago, I received a letter from a dear friend (shamefully, I haven’t written back – it’s not a reflection on how deeply I value the friendship, just a reflection on my terrible correspondence skills). She had read this blog, and she said to me that her favourite posts were the ones about human connection. Reminders of what unites us – small, incidental moments in the day, unconsequential points of connection and of mutuality that are often overlooked, but that remind us that we are not alone. Or that, if we are alone, we are alone together.
I was surprised when I read this because it made me realise just how deeply I value those moments of human connection as well, and even though I read that quite some time ago, I found myself thinking of it recently, about those small connections with those who have nothing to do with me: the individuals I come into contact with and who then vanish from my life: the man in Office Works who, in trying to sell me a light globe for my new desk lamp, managed to shatter it in a wonderfully clumsy two-handed fumble, and who then stood there and simply laughed with me. The woman who was also watching the native mynah bird trying to walk along the footpath carrying a stick almost double its own body-lengh, who met my eyes and smiled. The man staring with soft-eyed wonder at the baby in the pram on the bus, who looked up at me and in open-faced awe allowed me to see the depth of love he had for this small everyday miracle. The big scary tough dude with a beanie on his head and skull-and-rose tatts down both arms walking a galumphing sausage dog, who couldn’t quite conceal his fondness for the ridiculous animal under all his gruff dismissal of “walking the girlfriend’s idiot dog”.
Small moments, nothing moments, and yet they’re moments that mean everything: moments that mean we’re all human, we all share a world of joy and pain and amusement and the flumphing movements of sausage dogs, comical no matter what language you speak. And so I find myself looking out for these moments of connection: keeping an eye out, maintaining mindfulness, searching for those gentle points where two souls spark brightly against each other before moving off again on their own individual trajectories.
After that moment of spark, nothing’s really different. A complete stranger doesn’t make that much impact, my life doesn’t change from one point of connection to another. Except that the world is slightly warmer, and slightly softer, and slightly less hard. And I am slightly less alone, and there’s normally a smile on my face.