Communication: I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. Dan’s been in Mexico for about three weeks. After spending 24 hours a day with him for 365 days a year for 34 years, not having him around to chat with is a little odd. He’s been away like this before but just in the last few years, and just a couple of times. I never realized before he started traveling, how much we talk - how much I depend on his listening . . . and responding.
I’ve been thinking too, about our culture and how much it’s changed in recent years. We live in a world of connectivity - plugs and wires and cables and “wireless” connections - everywhere we look. At home, at the restaurant, in the parks in Mexico (and I suspect every other nation), at church, in grocery store parking lots, driving down the road !! :O Yikes!
I remember “back in the day” when we gathered around the kitchen table on a winter evening and talked the evening away, telling stories, laughing and enjoying one another’s company. On summer evenings, people sat on the front porch visiting with friends and neighbors; exchanging ideas of importance . . . or just trivial chatter, watching the children play. There was real connection.
But these days, we have limited time - limited space, and our real communication seems to be slipping away a bit. “Hi”, “c u tnite”, “lol”.
I was talking to one of my students the other day about texting Dan in Mexico. Due to the cost of international texts, I was lamenting the fact that one text message only allowed 160 characters. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Well that ought to be more than enough.” And then he kind of chuckled and said, “Hmm, I guess I don’t have that much to say.”
Now DON’T get me wrong. :) I’m actually VERY thankful for our abilities to send emails, texts, and IM. I otherwise would have no contact with my dear sweet husband at all, as phone calls are much too expensive. And I’m spending this evening on my laptop, sitting on the couch with my two dear kids (each with a laptop) each of us doing “our own thing”. But we’re together and we’re sharing ideas and information about what we’re up to. YAY. But I have an observation . . .
Observation . . . for being so “connected,” seems to me that folks are getting a little more disconnected in general. I read an article not too long ago about how elementary age kids will have few communication skills by the time they’re adults. Raised in a world full of computers, cell phones, iPods, gameboys, the wii, etc. we’re growing somehow more separate, more isolated, more drawn within ourselves and somehow losing a great many of our skills for meaningful communication. We find solace in our isolated, self-made worlds. But it’s communication that partly helps us develop healthy emotions - and healthy emotions help form stable relationships.
Hearing a person’s voice, experiencing the free exchange of meaningful ideas, knowing someone is really listening and responding, laughing together - it means so much. I’m grateful for a family who likes to get together and talk and laugh and share thoughts, “happenings,” plans, ideas . . . it’s part of what weaves the fabric of a family and a society together. I received a phone call this week from someone who just felt like sharing a funny little story with me, I suspect, because she knows that Dan is gone. A kindness, a simple thing, the sound of a friendly voice - didn't take a lot of time - we only spoke for a couple of minutes. But it was a spirit lifting experience.
For those not so fortunate, I plan to step outside my comfort zone from now on and go out of my way to talk to someone who perhaps is not so blessed with "communication opportunities" as I am. Even if it means . . . yes . . . using facebook, emails, texts, this blog . . . or some "connectivity device" . . . it's better than saying nothing at all :)