I had a lovely experience this week when I met a fellow inquisitive human who seemed as pleased as I was to skip through all the pleasantries that typically come with meeting someone new. It was a delight to avoid that stage of getting to know someone via the all-too-common questions. You know the ones. What do you do? Where do you work? Where did you go to school? Blah, blah, blah.
It was such an uncommon pleasure to spend a rambling few hours discussing all matter of things that feel honest and important - no preconceptions, no judgement.
It makes me kind of sad to realise how rare these kinds of encounters are. How unusual it is to connect with someone to that extent that you both become more yourself over the course of a conversation. These experiences - and the people who illicit them - should be treasured. Those who are prepared to disregard pointless social conventions that prevent us from truly connecting with each other are a special breed I think.
It has reminded me just how important other people are in our happiness. For the last little while, I’ve been so focused on getting my own head straight that I think I’ve forgotten how big a factor other people are in the way we experience the world.
It has also reminded me that in many ways that’s what this whole game is all about. Isn’t that what we’re all after? Connection with another human being that goes beyond the trivial and cuts straight to the core of who we are? Helping each other experience true connection with ourselves and others? Recognising the humanity and wonder in another person, and experiencing it in yourself through someone else’s eyes?
This experience shouldn’t be as elusive as it is. But like other things, it takes practice. It takes being in the moment, and making no judgement of yourself or others. It takes an ability to truly listen. It takes a willingness to let down your own walls, and to keep an eye out for others who might be prepared to do the same. They appear where and when you least expect it.
I’m convinced that this sense of empathy and connection is a severely depleted resource in the world right now, but the good thing is, it is also renewable, and all it takes is a willingness to cultivate it.
Here’s to more of it.
A few resources I’ve stumbled upon on this subject.