This week has been pretty intense with frustrations over the Stanford rape case, racism, the bizarre election process in the United States, seeing the effects of drugs on families, communities affected by deception … It’s been a rough week for a lot of people. There were so many different angles that I was considering for the Frolic Friday theme to address one of these issues. Articles about Rat Park, building community, people overcoming great difficulty through mindfulness … I had a lot of ideas, but was having a hard time selecting one.
Yesterday after a wonderful after-work walk and pint with one of my dear friends, I was walking home and passed a large hotel and convention center. There were well-dressed people coming out the side door out onto the sidewalk; clearly an event had just ended. As I approached the corner, there was a older woman standing there in pretty flowered shirt, holding a pint glass with a red carnation in it. I smiled at her, and she smiled back and began to chat with me. At first it was about how the wind had picked up over the last two hours and she was grumpy because her husband was late to pick her up and she was cold.
We continued to talk, she telling me the event was for a local hospital’s annual event, among other things celebrating milestones of their workers. The woman I was speaking to was retired, and told me about a woman she used to work with at the hospital who celebrated that day her 50th anniversary with the company. She shook her head. “Fifty years! Can you imagine! I want to go back …”
After a few minutes we parted ways happily, and I smiled the two remaining blocks to my house. I loved the interaction we had, the easy connection. I have always enjoyed talking to strangers and hearing their stories. It’s also interesting to me how in only a few minutes I got such a snapshot of what a wonderful workplace that hospital is, and how this woman missed if not the work, definitely the company and the people in her former job. And, the fact she was at this event despite being retired shows how strong that network is to her, still.
A loving network is a really powerful thing, and that circles back to all the issues I had wanted to address over the week. So many problems may not necessarily be solved by a loving network, but it really helps us move through them.
That social connection, through family, friends, coworkers, and other communities, can help us overcome so many things. It is not the simple answer to addiction as the Rat Park experiment may suggest, but I believe it is a strong foundation to these more complex life problems. At the very least, cultivating these relationships doesn’t hurt, and will make life happier.
Emma Seppala has a great infographic and TEDTalk on her site about the power of social connection, and the science that explains how it is important for our health and the lack of it can be as harmful as poor diet or smoking.
We’re This and We’re That, Aren’t We?
BY DAVID HERNANDEZ
Now that the theoretical physicist slash cosmologist
has explained to me, has laid out in clean
even rows of logic
how every atom in my body
arrived from a star, a star
that blasted apart,
and the atoms of my left hand
originated from a different sun
than my right,
I can shine. I can go dark
recalling how my grandfather made
the vertical blinds rattle
when he shoved
my grandmother into them.
Startled in the yard, I turned to that sound,
from the flower bed my eyes were held by
the swaying blinds. It took a while for each
to line up
perfectly straight again, to tell myself
she slipped. Only then could I
return to stalking the butterflies.
My right hand was quick: reach and pinch.
I had so many soft wings that summer
between my thumb and index, so many of them
skewered on cactus needles.
I was a kid. I was cruel slash gentle.
He was cruel slash gentle.
He had witnessed my destroying
and I saw
across his creased face
empathy for them.
After his scolding I placed one dead one
inside the white envelope of a flower.
Under the sun it glowed. Under the moon,
Source: Poetry Magazine (February 2016)
Weekly Dose of Cute
One of my dearest friends sent me this gif this morning. A bunch of pitbulls making a cozy bed for a toddler to rest … and be subjected to many pupper kisses.
This week, I want to challenge myself and others to cultivate their social connections. Reach out to someone you haven’t seen in a while and have a meaningful connection with them. What that means is individual to each of us, and I encourage you to take this challenge and discuss your experience with others in our forums.