04.23.18 | Connection: Anybody Out There?
Step one is the acknowledgment of its pervasiveness. It’s the call of the all-night FM disc jockey taking requests all the while beseeching, “Is there anybody out there, anybody at all?”
The hunger for connection — and the consequences, if unsatisfied — is the subject of “A Cure for Disconnection,” (Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201803/cure-disconnection). Loneliness poses serious physical risk, we learn, even as it’s also clear that subjective loneliness — the sense of emptiness, worthlessness, lack of control, and personal threat — is something quite different from the condition of simply being alone.
No group is exempt from affliction: young and old; single and married; rich and poor; urban- and rural-dweller alike. It’s not a numbers game in that loneliness in a crowd is pretty much a cliche’. Studies have shown that the sense of isolation actually increases alongside the number of one’s social network “friends.” The very pervasiveness of the phenomenon does serve to eliminate the stigma and allows us to more openly address it.
One may begin by simply asking who it is “in here” that’s reaching for the “out there”? Our personality signature, the filter through which we perceive the world, is a good start. From there:
Our Member Monday (10/2/17)/Epicurus and Happiness session comes to mind i.e. of all the things which wisdom provides to make us entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship. Friendship, not the pursuit of love too ardently or the crass overindulgence in other such worldly excesses, is the ticket. His “Pleasure Garden” is a place of philosophical contemplation.
The more flesh-and-blood constituency would say so much for a dead Greek philosopher. Connection must certainly include a strong emotional component. We’ll thus broaden our discussion to include the popular NYT article, “The 36 Questions That Lead to Love” https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/no-37-big-wedding-or-small.html. Aside from the 36 questions, a big piece of the exercise is the four-minute wordless gaze into the partner’s eyes (not trivial). Regard this process less as some kind of a parlor trick than as an example of how to hot-wire the limbic system.
The point of our session is to explore the myriad of ways to connect. That, by the way, is a hallmark of your club.
- Steve Smith.