Last night, a college friend came by. He was in California for the week, and took the opportunity to visit, showing up on my doorstep with a brand-new mohawk and an overflowing box of ripe organic strawberries. We spent the evening sprawled on my livingroom floor, talking over mugs of tea and fingers stained red with berry juice.
It was one of those conversations that ramble into increased depth and complexity, the sort of meaningful, heartening, rich exchanges that approach the emotional equivalent of the more awkward intellectual variety I remember from my university days. It makes me wonder why I don’t encourage more of this in my life; my days seem to get so full with work and classes and the sorts of social activities that involve doing something, and somewhere the time for just being with others gets lost. Or lost isn’t quite right; that time is always there. It’s just so easily skipped over, or forgotten, or otherwise ignored.
We talked about this, some, about the way in which, though we’ve become experts at the technological aspects of communication – we keep our phones on us; we can make instantaneous contact with someone across the globe – we seem to be utterly clueless when it comes to deeper connections with the real human beings around us.
It has to do with so much, I think. There’re the general scare-tactics of the media that encourage people to mistrust their neighbors and lock their doors and to be wary of strangers. There’s the distraction of all manner of entertainment, from shopping to television to the internet. There’s the general denial that we’re all of us in; really connecting with another demands a certain degree of openhearted authenticity, and I can’t help but think that the vast majority of the US is incapable of getting to this point. I’m biased, I know; it’s hard to talk about this without my social and poliitcal beliefs coloring the dialogue, but for a country at war, we seem to have an odd aversion to talking about the suffering involved. We’ll skirt political issues and heap abuse on our administration, but I so rarely encounter any acknowledgement of the pain and sorrow and anger that can’t help but accompany the death of thousands. Doing so entails taking some sort of responsibility, however minor, for the situation, and doing this is hard. And so we stay safe on the surface and talk – if at all – about facts and weather and celebrity weddings. But I digress; last night was a welcome contrast to the usual, and it’s made me commit to discovering, and creating, more of these evenings. I love my across-the-world connections, but I’m hungry, too, for community I can touch.
And to that end, I’m going tonight to this exploratory salon. I’m curious and excited about the other unknown guests. I’m in need of a little impassioned slowness, I think, and this event seems just the thing.