In the context of what’s going on in my life right now, this article I found on Nerve recently struck me. Whether or not it’s creepy or illuminating or both, I certainly thought it was interesting.
After reading it, I wrote in my notebook, “Here’s a writing exercise. If a real human connection is impossible (but anything is possible in fiction), make one happen. What would one look like?”
What is the closest approximation to actually connecting?
The first thing I thought of was someone who can sit with you and just listen and be there when you are going through something difficult and unrelated to him/her. Someone who doesn’t ask for any further information, or maybe for any information at all, and who does not offer advice if it’s not asked for. Someone who will share, to a degree and for a moment, your feelings.
(Does it count as a real connection if it’s a one-sided one?)
The second thing I thought of was some sort of sci-fi device that allows you to share feelings directly, literally transpose them from your head to another’s. (In this story, the transposal machine would probably gain consciousness and kill itself or something the like.)
Either way, I imagined some kind of sharing, reciprocity. A common understanding, even if that understanding is that we don’t wholly understand each other.
Recently, I’ve come to realize that it’s not that events shape the way I feel so much as that the way I feel shapes events – what happens, how I act, how I react, what I remember.
It’s a common view that life is a search for human connection, for some kind of mutual understanding, compassion, empathy. It’s also a common view that such a connection isn’t possible. That’s probably true, but if we actually believed it, we’d probably all off ourselves.
I’ve been going through very hard times with the two most important people in my life for the past few months, to the degree where my place in their lives has been jeopardized. I’ve been asking myself for a while why these two mean so much to me, why I’m willing to do anything to keep them both, and what I expect from them that makes this all worth it.
I’m still not wholly sure what the answers to those questions are. There’s something about these two men that makes me feel more at home, more known, and maybe even more understood than I do with anyone else. Part of it certainly it is a matter of sharing – shared time, shared space, shared stories, shared lives. But there is something that really makes me want to share myself with these two.
I’ve never been comfortable with the word “love.” I thought it was something that I would recognize the moment I began to feel it. I didn’t believe in love at first sight, that when I met my love-ee I would instantly know it. Rather, I think I believed in something more like “sight at first love,” that I would immediately recognize love when I felt it. That is not at all how it happened.
Love wasn’t so much something that crept up on me and surprised me. It was something that crept up on me and confused me and delighted me and scared me, then confused me some more, was finally recognized, then immediately called into question, and finally, finally accepted.
I don’t know what to do with it now that I’ve found it. I’m also not sure what it will do to me, but I will try to hold onto it in the ways that I can.