What Connects Us

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This chronicle starts with a problem which I hope you help me to solve – or help us solve it. A problem that emerges when I write to you. The process is: the idea comes to me – perhaps it comes from the magic lamp genies that hoover in the air – and I understand that it will give me lots of paragraphs and deep insights to share with you. Then, doing what any artist would, I break it down and start writing. Within a couple of hours, the text is ready. But I don’t publish it right away. I give it one day or two to mature, ferment, become tastier. And do you know what happens in the maturation? I read again what I have written, realising that I spoke, spoke, spoke and spoke only about me, forgetting about you, reader. Aha! Here it is. The problem. And it happens a lot. Yet it is a curious problem because talking to the beings that live in the depths of my soul, I understood that my aim as a writer is to nurture you. Touch you with my wild words. However, how am I going to do that if I speak only about myself? Where this obsession for the “I” comes from? Why do we insis in carrying the habit of thinking that everything in the world is about us, even when we seek the opposite?

Complicated this problem that we put ourselves in – do me a favour and count how many times I used the word “I” in the previous paragraph. We definitely need some external help. The writer of the first book I read in 2021, Kae Tempest, might be able to illuminate us a little bit. In his book “On Connection”, written during the pandemics, he talks to his readers about how we spend most of our days in a numbness state of mind, of soul, of living. We navel-gaze, numbness about everything that is happening around us. It is just a matter of thinking about the last time you walked on the street, took a bus, the tube or was inside the safe space of your automobile. If in these occasions you closed yourself up inside your own little wall, ignoring people and happenings that surrounded you because you were fixed in your objective – take the children at school, meet up someone, come back home, be at someplace, whatever it is – you have already felt the numbness state. In which, we lose so much. We lose the world. We lose the interaction with people that cross our path, but we also with the natural manifestations around us. We lose connection.

Today when I was at the park, a fubsy and bearded old man was doing some eccentric exercises under the awful London weather – a mixture of Thai chi with a dance of someone who had purple mushrooms at Glastonbury in 1971. He looked at me and smiled, not once, but at least three times, and I ignored him in all of these. My face simply contorted to a very serious expression so I could focus on my own exercise. Then I asked myself: why didn’t I smile back? Why I was so numb? Why do we close ourselves to the connection with other human beings like that? And it wasn’t a mindful numbness that came to me at that moment. It was a learned numbness, an automatic numbness, a behaviour that was and still is just part of me. I didn’t think twice in not connecting with the old man. I didn’t have anything to do with his life. I wouldn’t gain anything beaming back at him. Maybe I was even afraid of him. I was afraid of an old man that danced in the park under the rain.

I can understand that the fear exists – I was born and raised in Brazil and I really know that we can’t get out smiling at strange people as if we were harvesting golden rosemary in the fields – but I think that there is something in this fear that goes beyond the feeling for surviving and protection. There is a layer within that blocks us, that separates us from the others, while they tell us to go deeper and deeper in our individuality because after all, everything is about us. And you can even argument, “What about the internet? And the social media that allow us to connect to the world in seconds? And the Age of Aquarius that is coming to expand in us the sense of community? You are connecting with me through a blog, aren’t you?”. Well, yeah! We can get a lot of connection here, but if you look closer, most of the times, this connection is not about connecting to the other. It is about us gaining the other’s approval – when the other gives us a like everything is fine. In other words: most of the times we don’t seek connection, we seek being accepted by the collective.

This discussion makes me think about the fantastic case of the Parisian cafes in the XXI century. If you are going or have already gone to Paris, or if you love the French culture like me, you can find the term “Parisian Way”. The Parisians have this curious culture of spending hours and hours sitting at the sidewalk cafes enjoying their baguettes dripped in butter, their croissants filled with jam, their printed newspapers – perhaps their pack of cigarettes – and this culture become quite famous around the world. It is chic, it is cool, it is sophisticated and it is especially charming to have breakfast the Parisian way. Maybe when your dream comes true and you are finally in the City of Lights, you will go to the wonderful French coffee around the corne. But the chances are that instead of enjoying the leisurely morning hours sitting in the sidewalk table, you are going to take dozens (why not hundreds) of pictures to post in your social media. That way, you prove to yourself that you are not seeking for connection with the local culture, with food, with the people that are with you and neither with your followers. You are mobilised by your own ego, seeking for likes, for the spectacle that you have been at a coffee in Paris, in the numbness that modern life can bring to us.

Hey, we are still human beings and it is in our souls to look for true connections. At some point in our lives, in the middle of all this numbness, of individuality marketing, we will be willing to destroy our walls and connect. Perhaps someday, you are, let’s say, walking back from the beach. It is a beautiful day. The woman that is some meters ahead of you starts to sing a melody and you, a little bit dizzy by the sun, a lot happy by the salty water that has washed your spirit, starts to sing with the woman. When you less expect, your mother that is dragging the parasol a little behind you also joins the game, and a couple of strange surfers that walk close to you start to sing along. Within some minutes, you are all singing the same rhythm. You have connected. The beauty? We can all seek for these moments. We all have the power of connection.

There is something that Kae says in his book that pointed me a way to reeducate myself and integrate my power of connection. In his words, “see people around you as the protagonist of their own story rather than an accessory to yours”. So, when you go out in the street or when you have that Zoom meeting, try to perceive that not only your story is happening, each person that passes by you it is a protagonist. And I would like to add: when you are using your social media, think about how you can connect to the other more than receiving approval. When you are talking to someone, look at them in the eyes. When you are creating anything, think that the connection will only be completed when your creation is received by somebody else. When you go to Paris and sit in a charming coffee, take a picture to spread your joy to the world, connecting with what the moment is, without putting it into a frame. And when you write a chronicle of a wild woman, remember your reader, because it’s them that will give meaning to your words, like you, right here, right now. Our problem has been solved.

Júlia P. Albertoni

The Chronicles of a Wild Woman were born from the coincidence of the leaves, the dreams and the soul writers. If you want to follow the words that follow instinct, the texts are published in Portuguese and English once per month. Read more here and subscribe to my mailing list to receive them in your inbox 

2 responses to “What Connects Us”

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