Seattle had quite a bit of snow the other day. Given I have a young dog we were out on our early morning 5-mile walks regardless. One of the things I noticed was that people say “hi” and generally greet when it’s snowing in Seattle. I am not making this up. I walk through Ballard a zillion times a week and a million times on weekday mornings and no one, ever, ever says “hi”. But when it snowed, everybody said “hi”. Can you figure that out? Me neither, but I have a theory and that the snow brings a sense of connection over something shared, or special. Or maybe it’s just a mutual shared experience over something unique. I can’t be sure but that’s what I’ve come up with.
Which got me thinking about something else I do, (and maybe most humans) and that’s what happens when bad shit happens to people. When people get horrible prognosis, or someone dies or … you name it. The list of bad shit doesn’t end. What I do is make it about me. Just a little. I mean I feel some level of hurt and sadness but I also experience a sort of need to be part of it. Or be the one? Or be present? Or… (For me that looks like I want to be the one to be there, to save the day, to be a part of it. Whatever it is.) I always thought this was some serious ego tripping on my part. And it still likely is that, or some of that, but I’ve started to think it has more to do with connection. A connection we are so rarely aware of, or present to. (Again, this is white supremacy at work, people). It’s so rare that we really allow ourselves to feel the intense connection between us. Between all of us. The connection is always there. Always. And when that connection is strained, or we are made aware of the possible break in connection it really freaks us out. We want to reach out to it, we want to establish it, we want to reinforce it. To acknowledge it and feel it. I think that is powerful and, if we can look at our need to establish connection, we can do it in ways that are sustaining and fulfilling and that leave us knowing we are safe. We are seen. We are heard. We are understood. We are needed. We are connected.
I know a few people who are good at this. Most of aren’t. I am not. I feel intense connection ALL. THE. TIME. (I think about people I knew 89,765 years ago almost every day.) but I do nothing to experience it with the actual people I feel connected to. Instead I stay by myself a lot. And very often I am unsure of those connections. I don’t feel seen or heard or safe or needed.
Objectively I know that’s not true but it does point to the basic human need of love and support in action. Belonging is a NEED.