It’s rare for me to be awake at this hour, watching one day turn into the next. A second ticks by and, just like that, a new day begins. In the blink of an eye.
Moments like these are engulfed in meaning to me.
Each day is filled with tiny fractions of time. Some more significant than others. We all want them to be meaningful. Easy. Filled with that which makes us happy. And we, each of us, sometimes struggle with making the most of our moments.
But we are a fast-paced society. Busy filling those moments with time-killers that may or may not bring us what our souls truly desire.
I sat with my grandmother a while yesterday. I haven’t had an extended visit in a good while. The conversations can be admittedly tiresome. Her opinions are readily shared aloud, just so she can speak them.
So I just sit, try to be a captive audience, and let her make her moments count the way she chooses. Today, she was in a bit of a storytelling mood, which is always interesting. Her stories may or may not be true, after all. Truly God only knows.
The point is, even in her most trying moments of knowitallness, she is only doing what all of us do. Either consciously or subconsciously, we all long to know that our moments count. That we count. That we matter.
I see it on social media all the time. And have become so much more aware of it since my departure from Facebook. That need to matter. To have significance. Validation. Attention. And, I think, it all comes down to connection.
We aren’t designed to be loners. Even the most introverted among us longs for connection to something, even if it’s *just* nature. The world itself. A higher power. Art. Something. But mostly, that need to really be seen. Heard. Valued.
The sad thing is, we are often so absorbed in our own searches for connection, that we ignore the other souls that are also in need of it. Souls that are hurting, and, in fact, lonely.
My grandmother? I can talk to her. Tell her about my problems. I have. Sometimes I still do. But today, today she needed to talk. To just ramble. I was chatting online with a friend at 6 a.m. yesterday morning because I picked up on cues that they weren’t okay. We “talked” for an hour.
These were just two instances in a relatively short period of time where I stopped and was simply present with someone else in a moment where they each needed a different kind, but they both needed connection.
And I suppose we could blame technology and social media and the “me generation” and all of that for the lack of meaningful connections we both offer and receive these days, but I think it goes deeper.
If there’s a true plague besieging humanity at present, it’s not technology. It’s not social media. These things can be used for good and ill.
The real threat, in this humble writer’s opinion, is apathy. It’s well-masked behind “thoughts and prayers” and emoji responses, but it’s most definitely abundant across society. I’m guilty of it, too.
So how does one not succumb to indifference?
I think the answer lies somewhere in the recognition of the fragility of this life. These moments. How precious they are. How meaningful we can make them, if we choose to.
Perhaps I’m nostalgic. My mind has been preoccupied with the child that I seem to have left to her toys a moment ago, only to come back and find she’d nearly grown up when I wasn’t looking.
Thoughts of coming of age and seeing the transformation of my own flesh and blood have definitely given me a lot of pause lately.
But whatever the reason for the introspection, I cherish it. These are the secret treasures of parenthood. The depth and insight it can give you, if you’re open to it.
Moments pass, more swiftly with every passing day. Technology continues to thrive and bring us into new territory, places that can challenge what it means to authentically connect with other people. But we have a choice in those places. To either join the apathetic herd, or be present in each moment, both in person AND across an internet connection.
Because if apathy is a plague that threatens humanity, so also is one that’s just as alarming – loneliness. Many months ago, I listened to a broadcast about The Loneliness Epidemic that is rampant, not just in the U.S , but across the world. This article sort of sums it up.
So what we have are two different types of epidemics that, when poured into society, mix like oil and water. The lonely ones making slight overtures, hoping for someone to reach out and connect, and, on the other side, the apathetic, scrolling past, walking past, tuning out.
My daughter just returned from her last camp for the summer. It’s hot. Humid. She was not entirely excited about going off to nature and un-air-conditioned cabins. But she talked non-stop when I picked her up yesterday. And once she had a nap and some time for reflection, she took to social media and did something she hardly ever does: she posted pictures of herself with the people she had hung out with all week and wrote an emotionally-charged epistle, detailing her appreciation for them and the connections she had made over this last week.
If there was ever a creature of habit, a loner content with limited human interaction, it would be my teenager. But yesterday just proves what I’m saying here: even the most independent, introverted, strong-willed among us needs and craves human interaction more than even we, ourselves, realize.
I used to write these posts in the hopes that I might, eventually, reach some level of success with my writing. Until I redefined what “success” meant. Because, in the days since I left that goal behind, I’ve forged valuable and meaningful connections with other writers, and also the people who used to read the blog via Facebook who took the initiative to actually follow this blog via email or WordPress and began to interact. I went from “likes” to actual comments. People truly connecting.
So the challenge, it would seem, is not in the method of connection, but the substance. Because my virtual connections with people I may never meet in person can mean and have meant just as much to me as the most intimate heart-to-hearts I’ve had with close friends.
If you fall within the lonely bracket, as I often have, OR the apathetic bracket, as I often have, the challenge is the same: to step outside of one’s comfort zone, and be vulnerable. Open one’s heart. Give and receive the moments of connection that are universally craved and needed for life to have meaning and purpose.
Those actions, I believe, are the keys to healing a divided and hurting society, weary with image, and hungry for hope and authenticity.
Show love today, in whatever format you find yourself. And receive it. Reach out for it. I can guarantee – someone else needs it, too.