If the past few months have taught us anything, it’s that we need our people. We’ve discovered that we miss the small things: the squeezed in Latté meet-ups; the grunted hellos of the office in the morning; a stranger’s smile on the metro; warm Saturday pancakes at the IHOP with the road runner crew, and those everlasting “do you wanna split this with me?” nachos nights. And the hugs? Don’t even get us started on the hugs. We’ve missed the hugs. Especially the hugs.
What is this thing that comes with human to human? What is this sense of shared experience? Now more than before we find ourselves searching for a cure to the emptiness; we’re hunting down a wholeness from these once-upon-a-time “live” moments that, well, made us feel alive.
It’s called “Connection”. And we’re all looking for it.
Author of The Beauty of Connections, Betty Luceigh (Psychology Today) describes it as “the deepest level of our shared humanity.” The Swedes have a social name for it too: Fika - which has grown in global popularity as a cosy moment with friends, colleagues or family (usually accompanied by baked goods). But the most accurate of definitions has to go to the Catalans with their verby-version of the sentiment called: Acaroner. Meaning, to tenderly and lovingly pull someone closer.
Connection is the pull. It’s the gravity of grace and belonging that draws you nearer to what matters. It’s being present in the humble moments of human exchange that bind us to loved ones, and even strangers.
To truly understand the power of Connection, we need to appreciate the search for it, and its natural habitat: where do we find it, how do we experience it – does it come in slate gray and florals, and most importantly, how do we get more of it?
Connection - it’s not about the coffee
Realizing that ‘Connection’ has much less to do with the caffeine that you’re drinking and a lot more to do with the person you’re drinking it with, is the first find. It’s being fully present with someone you respect and love, and taking a minute to notice it. The caffeine helps (yes) - especially when its 3am and you’re sitting in your undies on the counter top crying over the barman that broke your heart. But really, it’s the one that’s feeding you the 3am pizza slices - with the coffee - that is building the bridge for Connection.
Connection – it’s about the compromise
Whether it be the cramped office space, or giving up your last seat on the train or the hot water between you and your three college housemates - Connection is in the compromising. It’s the momentary memories you make “through mutual acknowledgement of each other’s (struggles) and existence,” (Luceigh, Betty). A moment of compromise helps us appreciate our humanness and our vulnerabilities - and it stops us wining about Cathy’s small,
butt-numbing plastic chairs she made everyone watch the game on.
Connection – it’s in the incidental moment
Those clap-on-the-back moments from that co-worker you never expected to be so proud of you; the slightly awkward small talk with the grocer man at your car trunk; the nervousness of asking “do you mind if I touch your dog?”; Connection does not only live in the timeline of historically blessed friendships, but in the serendipitous surrender with a stranger too. That feeling of “I get you and I see you” is the deepest source of humanness that needs no history, nor explanation - only awareness.
Connection – it’s in the things that aren’t said
While we travel the world to search for words that describe the feeling of deep connection, the secret may lay in not searching too hard at all. This closeness often disguises itself in the silliness of the internal joke that lasts for months, even decades; or the nick name you got from that one time on Camp David; or in the loud, uncontrollable laughter at that coffee shop in Sydney. Connection is not always as tangible as we’re led to believe. It exists inside the unspoken moments. The ones that leave us feeling secretly understood. Incidentally, the French call this “entre nous” - just between us.
Connection – is in the conversation
The kind of conversations that flow effortlessly. The ones that reminisce about the old days gone by; it’s the medicinal kind of conversation that heals, and allows your problems to slip away like the side of the biscuit dunked too long in your tea. Conversation is the subtle ‘Acaroner’ that does what it does without knowing it’s doing it – and it just feels good.
With the state of the world in recluse, the urge to connect is growing boldly stronger by the minute. We’re seeking out an undefined expression of our human existence that links to something, someone, somewhere that feels like the return home.
But here’s the true uncovering: the search for Connection needn’t be in the definition, nor the doing. Connection is, unequivocally, in the feeling. And more it, may just save the world.