This blog is about connections. Human connections to be more precise. Have you ever stopped to consider how connected you are to the people around you? 2020 brought a year that challenged my methods of connecting with others more than any other year I’ve experienced. Virtual hugs, social distancing, video calls and masks are just some of the barriers I have experienced when attempting to communicate and connect with the world around me. I’ve had to change and adapt, focusing not on what I can’t do but on what I can. I can use social media (rather clumsily) and I can use zoom (just) whilst being mindful of monitoring my screen time. Is it just me or are video calls so incredibly exhausting?!
I can go for a walk with a friend and I can say hello to strangers as I pass them on my walks. I have spoken to more strangers in the last year than ever before. The lack of normal social interactions has driven my usually introverted personality to say hello to nearly everyone I meet and the poor checkout staff at the local supermarket must be sick of me babbling on by now.
When I interact with strangers, I have noticed a range of responses. Some are checking the distance between us, fearful that this brief interaction could put them at risk. Some look quite startled as if they have become unaccustomed to human interaction and are not quite sure how to respond. Some break out into a wide grin clearly pleased that someone has noticed them and bothered to say hello. Then there are those who are quite clearly deprived of conversation and want to tell me their full life story. I’ve even learned to notice if someone is smiling (or not) behind their mask. I don’t really mind what type of reaction I get I just enjoy the brief connection with another human being. I have noticed that I relish these brief interactions more now than ever before. They have become more important. The anonymous people around me have become more important and this is something I hope I will never let go of. Sometimes a smile is all it takes to lift the spirits of someone who is feeling low and we all need a lift from time to time. When lockdowns become a thing of the past and we start to feel more connected to the people we love, I pray we will never forget that there are people in our communities that we do not know, who need us just as much as our families and friends. Who knows what might happen when you smile at a passer-by? They might end up smiling right back at you and put a spring in your step.
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