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Essays: The Thing About Connections

Posted by on July 1, 2013

The thing about Connections

During my various travels, I have often met people who simultaneously inspire a sense of ambition within me and a profound sense of fear. These people step into my life unexpectedly and leave a very large shoeprint in my mind – and trust me, sometimes this process is quite painful. These are individuals who are the “go-getters” and “trend-setters”. The ones who choose a specific finger when they are told “can’t” and “never”. They have extreme ideas and high moral levels, and have no qualms pointing these out to others. These are the people who inspire us to do more, aim higher, achieve that which we were too afraid to reach for in the first place. And all this from a simple connection made in the simplest of ways; travelling on a train and talking to the man next to you, asking the lady behind the counter for help converting money, talking to the waiter serving you drinks. And all this because you happen to be in a foreign place and communication, all of a sudden, becomes essential. And we all know communication means co-operation and this in turn leads to creating connections. The more we communicate, the more two different beings form coherent thoughts influenced by each other, leading the conversation towards levels of coherent thought patterns, each individual’s words influencing the direction of the opposing individual’s mind-set. And so we believe we have met someone on the same wavelength as us – someone who we can connect to, understand, and learn from. Someone special.

But, the thing about making connections, which we often forget, is that it can happen at any time. I always thought I travelled in order to see various places and meet varying people who have their varying (and various) adventures. When, in reality, I could look in my own small home town and hear stories that could fill volumes. So why the difference in my attitude? Why do I automatically assume that I will meet crazy new people overseas or outside of my country when really one doesn’t need to go miles and miles to get inspired – although, I won’t lie, sometimes the distance does help.

When you travel, you automatically open yourself up to the outside world. You know that you are going to be in a different place, and as such you expect things to be different too. Whereas when you are confronted with “different” in your normal day-to-day life you react almost always in the defensive. It’s a simple matter of being prepared for it. Most times, things that do not appear “normal” in our monotonous daily living are treated with caution, and almost an animalistic tendency to run away. But put yourself in the situation where you expect things to be different, and all of a sudden those previous inhibitions are put aside. It isn’t that you don’t feel uncomfortable any more by the differences, but now you are more accepting of them.

So again I ask; why this difference? Why be able to accept something alternative simply because you happen to be in an alternative environment? I reckon the answer is as simple as plain old ignorance. We fool ourselves into believing that our “different” is their “normal” and because of that it is acceptable. However we don’t know any better what their “normal” really is. We have no idea of that environment’s general idea of what is standard. So, being human, we assume that what we see at face value is the regular. As such, when we meet these people who are so very different to us, we accept them immediately and make a point of not discriminating against them. Why? Because when we place ourselves outside of our comfort zone, we have mentally prepared ourselves for anything else other than the norm. In fact, if we are confronted with people who conform to the usual standard that we would expect to find at home, we are disappointed and feel that the entire trip was hardly worth the time and effort that went into it. We go searching for adventure and mystique, go looking for the bizarre and eccentric. So long as it’s not in our home town. So long as we don’t have to deal with those differences on a day-to-day basis.

And as such, we make connections with those people who we would not normally approach in the first place while we have momentarily exposed our accepting nature. But connections do not have to be made simply overseas. In any case, a connection like that is a glimpsing link that fades slowly through time (but mainly through space). Without the ability to properly foster the connection, it slowly degrades into nothing but a transparent memory. Even with new developments in connection-technology, especially through the use of the internet, there is still something lacking in the inability to see a person face-to-face and have the full benefit of their undivided attention. On the other hand, there are connections that are waiting to be made at home, around the corner, in the local grocery shop, wherever. If only we had the same open mind in those environments where we feel most comfortable as when we are expecting the unexpected.

Also important to keep in mind about connections is that they are a two-way street. You can’t expect other people to make lasting impressions on you if you are not willing to do the same for them – or at least try. A normal (and I use this term very lightly here) person will not talk to you unless they find something interesting in you which encourages them to continue communicating with you. As such, you need to try and be as great a “you” as you can be at all times, because you never know when you are going to be the person inspiring ambition in others. As such, you should put as much effort into making yourself connectable as making connections with others. I suppose that could lead me to hypothesise that connections are all about willingness – not just to accept others, but to open oneself up to be accepted too. This involves levels of trust that does not come naturally to humans meeting for the first time; we hide part of ourselves to give the best impression and as such only connect on the surface level. This is a good technique for self-preservation; however it does not offer any such opportunity to truly experience a real connection to another human-being.

So, the thing about connections, is that they can be made anywhere and at any time, as long as one is willing to make them.

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WonderWhiteRabbit hopping off

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