Sometimes reaching out is the greatest form of bravery.
In a world more and more disconnected from other human co-need, we stray further from trusting each other, depending on one another. We rely outmost on technology, on the space in between each other, on circumstances made by companies not by chance. If not questioning every choice of direction, every purchase, coffee shop, restaurant or grocery store, we end up being the sum of advertising and what has been put on the shelf easiest for us to reach.
In this society we trust in machines to secure our everyday life. Machines are reliable; if they don't work it is nothing personal, solely a defect. To trust in another human being means putting our hearts out in the space in between. Trusting that someone will catch it, look after it responsibly, sharing equal amounts of open-ness back. Today that can be a leap; a thrust out of comfort, balancing on the edge of comfort, the edge of safety. And we slowly seem to loose the small connections with the random people in our lives. In Sweden, and other countries, we check out our groceries ourselves, with a practical device we can quickly scan our shopping bag ourselves and leave the store; the daily communication with the person at the counter is slowly fading, only being left at the smaller stores, or a couple of counters open at the supermarkets. We mind our own business more and more, and a day without human connection is not unthinkable even for a social butterfly. It just happens. We live in little cocoons of relationships, from closest family to friends and acquaintances to colleagues and the people around us on day to day basis.
Added to this is the lessened verbal communication. Many of us chose to rather email, sending written messages, instead of picking up a phone and calling. Communicating more and more over space, time and place, text messaging, emails, we have created a new time space; how long is too long of a wait for an answer before wondering if message has been received? Before this, we wrote letters, fax was more instant but rarely used for personal communication, and the anticipation and the waiting for a reply that could take weeks sometimes. These days we have developed an instant reply foundation, and when we don’t hear back within hours we start creating stories, excuses, for the reason behind the delayed answer. We have created a world of uncertainty; through the possibility of absolute certainty we have built a society relying on communication advices to ensure our bonds. Most of us are always reachable, and we rely on being able to get hold of each other, when no connection is made, uncertainty is creeping in… within a couple of hours, minutes, we start wondering where the person is, why there is no reply. We used to be fine relying on a bond once made, months could pass while we depended on a connection we still felt alive in our hearts, body, wherever that connection was made.
So what can we change? What can we add in our lives to create the bond, connection, meaning, and a rope between each other that mean we depend on living as a community? That we chose to exist together, and trusting that the bond is there, lasting, even when no instant connection is made.
Well my two first weeks here in New York City has shown me so much of this. In this fast paced city, that truly never sleeps, never takes a moment to re-group, always there to greet you, there is so much beautiful connection. It’s as if the overload of everything somehow creates a layer within it all, like reading between the lines, there is a movement of people reaching out and connecting; smiles on the street, the metro, the counter, greetings in the morning by random encounters on way to work, someone to help you pick up the dropped content of your bag… or just a smile because you smiled to each other yesterday.
It’s all fleeting, but the more we include one another on daily basis, the more we open up to the idea of cooperating and to co-exist. I find New Yorkers have a wonderful kind of “We’re all in this together” kind of mentality. We are all here, in this crazy energy ball of a city, many having left their original home, some on a constant move, and we better watch out for each other. This is our new extended family.
So here it is: stay open, be brave, say a kind word, reach out, and trust that your heart is met respectfully. Start trusting that the people around you actually share the same wishes to connect and feel included. And hopefully, by practicing these small steps, we find trust in each other; building a certainty that we can depend on each other, that we will in fact reach out and be met with equal amount of trust, love and respect, being brave to take the first step.
Frida Sjögren is a Sweden-based artist and jewelry maker. She is also a devoted yogi and currently studying the beautiful teachings and practice of ashtanga yoga as an apprentice at the Mysore program in Stockholm.
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