Making Human Connections
I can’t quite remember when I first met Barb and Rich. They would show up regularly when my husband Jim’s band played. I would see them across the room, or even sometimes up and dancing, and wave to them. They also were customers at the bakery. They might come for Saturday morning breakfast or for Friday evening meals. Sometimes Rich would come in the morning to buy a still warm Down Under, a flaky cinnamon roll with caramelized sugar on its underbelly. One of those times, I kissed him on the mouth as a dare! We both had a good laugh over that because Barb is the kisser and I’m sure she had kissed Jim numerous times…
Just the other day, I ran into them again at another concert. They make a striking pair: Rich, tall, white haired and handsome and Barb, stylish, vivid eyes, soft hands, right at his side. We talk about their pets and their lives, but there is always more to the conversation. It’s that feeling you get, as though you have known them all your life, or in another life. There’s an ease, a comfortable space, a freedom that I feel when I stand next to them. It’s as though our spirits communicate over and beyond the words. They have had their share of rough times but they live beyond those, always bringing love to those around them.
Barb spoke of her grandmother who told her to never say a bad word about someone but rather seek to understand them. And that reminded me of my father, who always tried to find a human connection to anyone he met. This is the role model I want to follow. Instead of taking sides, or being for or against, I try to understand. Though I may be a thousand theoretical miles away from someone’s view, I still have a human connection to their experience. I know what death feels like, and love. I know about family traditions, and favorite family recipes. I experience the weather just as they do. I go through the daily motions of life as we all do. And this is what makes my day: finding that common thread with another. Our human chitchat often reveals what we care about. Mostly I have to listen for it, and then, there it is. And, yes, mostly it goes beyond words. It is approaching each person at a spiritual level, and listening for what is beyond the face and the words. Sometimes, I feel the weariness, the exuberance, the intensity, the ache behind the facade. And those are the things I can connect to.
Last year, when we were in Oslo, Norway, we visited the huge outdoor park which houses the Vigeland Museum. Gustav Vigeland was a sculptor and he created a series that traces the human life from birth to death. I connected to each of those sculptures as did every other human there, whatever their culture or identity. Vigiland captured those human moments that tie us together. And this summer, the Seward Johnson collection does the same here in Elkhart County. Barb and Rich make those human connections real. And I will try to as well as I live my day to day.