Connections. Everyone starts life dependent. For food, for shelter, for emotional comfort. Then we start to fight, for independence. Once we have the independence we start the fight for dependence. Yeah, that’s right. Dependence. (Just don’t tell teenagers this, they’ll never believe you) We start looking for the significant other to share our lives with. When we find them, we start talking long term,… walking the path together. Having children. Dependents. We think we are living by our own terms, but are actually just complying with the strictures of society. We need to belong. We need to belong so badly that we stop to think about what it is we belong to or what that belonging costs us.
We join social clubs, sport clubs, art clubs, book clubs, all in the pursuit to belong and to give meaning to our lives. We join churches for religious fellowship… finding people that think like us. I rather like the saying:”Where everyone thinks alike, no one thinks a lot”. I’m paraphrasing Walter Lippmann, US author and journalist but it still holds true. We seek out people that think and feel like we do, thereby we are not expected to extend our own mental barriers and borders.
We aren’t exposed to new ideas or new concepts. We don’t run the risk of thinking in a different way, or considering alternatives. We are safe in the walls of our own making. Closing off our harts and minds to the world, and staying dependent on the norms of our own making. We don’t find these strange for we point to those around us and say: “see they too think as I”. The argument could be made that we surround us with the familiar and that holds the same values as ourselves, but the converse is also true. The worlds diversity is racing ever closer to home. Away are the days when seeing a stranger was a strange occurrence. One speculated about and talked about for months on end. But, now there are more strangers in our average day than there used to be in an entire life time. My grand parents saw the direct family virtually everyday and the kin that lived further away on an infrequent basis. But, with the advent of the automobile and mass transport systems not only has kin folk moved further afield but they can come and go more frequently than ever before. It’s not unheard of to visit once a year with family that live on the opposite end of the country from you, or even on the other side of the globe. In this trek you are exposed to people from different back grounds and cultures. Different norms and standards. Different thinking. A different belonging when viewed from your point of view. For them you are the stranger that ‘do not belong’.
As a species we have developed the ability to compartmentalize the connections between us into personal connections, social connections, work connections and the general amorphous blobs that form when we travel. The fellow travelers in the airport waiting on their flights… some of us can make temporary connections with the strangers on these locations, because we are extroverted enough to talk to them about absolutely anything. These are the connection initiators who can initiate new life time connections, if we are willing to connect outside out safe, normative bubbles.