“… and so much of our experience is intangible. So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed. It’s unspeakable. And yet, you know when we communicate with one another, and we feel that we’ve connected, and we think that we’re understood, I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion. And that feeling might be transient, but I think it’s what we live for.”
-blonde woman in Waking Life written by Kim Krizan.
Staring into the shimmering water one beautiful night on a stunning beach in Thailand I was hit with a revelation about connecting with people. Let me share;
Waking Life is an incredible movie that comes to play in this story. It’s about a young man who is constantly caught in this dream state, he moves from place to place and meets with a wide array of people who talk very deeply about different points of life and issues facing people. These conversations are usually one sided, and span a wide range of topics from language to evolution to reincarnation. There is so many awesome ideas in this movie that you really have to watch it several times to get a grasp of it all and even after that you can still get something new out of it every time. (If you haven’t seen it I recommend you watch this amazing movie asap!)
Near the end of the movie there is a specific woman speaking. I believe it is implied that the woman has already passed away and is reflecting back on her life. She had one quote that really hit me, I believe her words were: “…I really miss connecting with the people, and when I look back now… that’s all that really mattered…connecting with the people.”
Hit by the feeling
I had seen the movies about 4-5 times at this point but when I heard her speak the line this time I was hit with a surge of emotion. I was instantly flooded with the thoughts I had back in Thailand. I had completely forgotten about my revelation that night but it all came back to me in full force. It was so powerful I teared up a little (quite rare for me but very interesting.)
That night in Thailand was about half way through my 40 day trip. My group of 20 new friends and I had experienced an array of amazing things together on the trip up to that point, from cave exploring to bungee jumping to elephant riding and much more. It was quite late that night and most of them had gone to bed so I was alone on the beach marveling at the beauty of the moon reflecting off the water and relaxing to the sounds of the rolling ocean waves. I was in a very deep mood, and was thinking all about the trip and the people and the experiences we all had. Despite all the amazing fun I was having there was something bothering me during the trip but I didn’t quite know what it was. I wondered why should there be something wrong. I felt I was in the most amazing place in the world and having the time of my life, things were pretty much perfect. That’s when it hit me. I wasn’t connecting with people. I mean I had lots of great times, and good laughs and experienced with my new friends and they all seemed to like me but, I wasn’t really connecting with them. I think to really connect with someone you have to show them the real you, 100% unobstructed, but I was holding back my real personality a bit. I was acting a little more shy and reserved than my normal self. It’s not like I was holding back on purpose either, I just hadn’t noticed that I wasn’t putting my real self out there. My realization was that, you can be in the most beautiful places in the world, having the most amazing experiences of your life, surrounded by wonderful people, but if you aren’t truly connecting with people as you go, there will be a bit of emptiness in it. From that point on I planned to let loose my true self, and I was much better for it through the rest of the trip. Looking back now some of my favorite moments of my entire trip, even with all the cool things I did, was simply just sitting around the fire with friends and having REAL connected conversations with them. Not small talk conversations, but real ones about real things.
I think when two people speak to each other they generally put up a small wall and keep their true selves hidden behind. Real connection happens when both people are free in the moment and all that which isn’t really them falls away.
I have heard before that after hearing something that resonates with you, if you experience a surge of emotion it acts as a powerful conformation from the universe that what you were hearing is something true and important for you. It’s as if the message is meant for you in that moment, and you should take whatever that message is to heart.
Taking it to heart
I definitely took this message to heart and I try to live by it now. Currently I believe that, no matter what someone’s life situation is, whether they are rich or poor, whether they are standing on a beautiful mountain or crammed into the back of a smelly bus, the happiness and fulfillment they will feel in that moment will depend on how well they connect with the people they are sharing their experience with.
Having cool things is nice and can give you temporary joy, having cool experiences can be awe inspiring and life changing, but having someone with you, connecting with someone, whether it be a loved one, a friend, or even a stranger you just met, connecting with people, sharing with them, learning from them, experiencing with them and understanding them, is what brings real joy and meaning in life.
Instead of sitting quietly ignoring the stranger next to you on the bus, brushing people aside at work, or going through your usual shallow daily routines with your family, try connecting with them. Talk to the stranger, learn something new about a colleague, ask deep questions to your family. Try to approach people openly, without barriers shutting away your true self. You won’t connect with everyone you meet, but when you do connect with someone you normally wouldn’t have, forming a new friendship, improving a relationship, or gaining a new insight it’s an awesome thing that can have amazing effects down the road. I believe when all is said and done, it’s all that’s really important in life.