In the spirit of spring cleaning, good for the soul, good for the mind, a way to get all those mental cobwebs cleaned out, this is a blog about the connections we are all encountering, pretty much all the time, yet just don’t pause and feel gratitude over, you know? We are united by the thread of family ties or interests or vocations or passions. In my life I have been fortunate enough to connect with people, at times in the oddest ways, and it is those seemingly random encounters that teach me to be more grateful.
If you sit quiet enough you can sense the lives unfolding around you, and in your very best moments, appreciate all the chances you have to see and laugh with your loved ones. Just last week I drove six hours for a fast NYC weekend with mother and brothers and sons and niece and an assortment of old and new friends with several cousins thrown in too. Bottomless conversations, heartfelt emotions, weighty strains and all the rest overlapping, but no interference in our general gifted time together. How is it that such an assortment of personages can come together in harmony? Yet, truly this is the result when we take the time to look and listen, to see the faces of those present to us.
On the simplest level, you are thinking about your best friend of 35 years ago or your grown son 3000 miles away and the phone rings and suddenly you are talking and there is no distance or time and the thread that weaves you closer pulls you in just like that. Or an earthquake and subsequent tsunami hits a region in Japan, the very region you stayed for several weeks, getting to know a whole assortment of folks, even one little family that you lost touch with over a decade ago. Suddenly that thread is tugging you and you hunt down old addresses and emails and any odd contact, worried that life there must be altered permanently. Days later you are driving and a calm comes over you. You just know they are at peace, you just know. And right then you receive an email on your smartphone, the first conformation, that yes, your instincts were correct; they are somehow, miraculously, all fine and their house withstood the earthquake.
My drive to make connection isn’t idiosyncratic to me, actually there is virtually no place on earth where my mother doesn’t know someone or knows someone who knows someone. Therefore whenever I, or actually anyone my mother is connected to travels, where-ever this travel happens, we are given a name to call upon. In Tokyo that call was to a daughter of a friend of my Aunt’s leading to an once-in-the-lifetime dinner on the 59th floor overlooking the Shinjuku district. In Dublin, Ireland, that call led to another memorable meeting involving a proper tea that morphed into whiskey and smoke, with a distant cousin so fascinating the entire day flew as if I was in the presence of a very old friend. In London there was the welcoming family of an ex-girlfriend of my brother; in Charleston yet another distant cousin just returned from a two day fishing excursion with fresh tuna grilled along with gala anecdotes.
Time moves us through these connections. Last weekend I stood in front of the NYC Port Authority flashing back to being there so many years ago, now with my grown sons leading the way through the labyrinth of underground subways to our uptown destination. All sorts of people, similar to my mother, keep the connections alive and vibrant and constant, they encourage us to find our own threads, to reach and forge bonds across state lines, across countries and continents, across disasters; these people see the sphere as one small globe holding no concrete boundaries, only a crossing of threads. They teach us that others matter most.