We humans are social creatures who crave connection. Granted, some prefer more than others, but we all require some type of connection. COVID has taught us how challenging life can be when we can’t connect. As someone who lives alone and works from home, I interact with relatively few people on a daily basis. Most of those interactions are online, not in person, so I enjoy opportunities to be in the presence of other humans.
Technology has especially helped us stay connected over the past few years. Can you imagine what 2020 would have been like without the internet, smartphones, and video conferencing? I’m grateful to be able to facilitate a weekly online A Course in Miracles study group with Course students from all over the country. I am also thankful for the ability to do Spiritual Coaching and Family Constellations sessions virtually. In this regard, technology has truly been a blessing.
Technology has also made many things incredibly convenient. Now you can have groceries delivered to your home with a few taps on a computer keyboard or touch screen. You can deposit a check without visiting a bank using banking apps and the camera on your smartphone. There are countless ways innovative technology has changed our daily lives.
However, many of these innovations have significantly decreased our opportunity for human connection. ATMs are very convenient if you need to withdraw cash when your bank is closed. But if I’m out running errands during the day, I prefer to go inside the bank to complete my transactions. I really enjoy talking with the fun tellers at my new bank as well as checking in with the kind Branch Manager who helped me open my accounts. Sometimes I just wave at her through the glass walls of her office while waiting in line.
Although they are casual conversations, there’s something comforting about asking someone, “How are you doing today?” and “How did you fare during the storm?” Looking into another human being’s eyes to thank them and wish them a good day is much more enjoyable to me than simply responding to the beeps and prompts from a machine. The human connection gives me a little boost of energy. It may take a little more time, but it’s worth it.
The same is true at the grocery store. Self-checkout lanes can be very enticing, especially if the other lines are long. But when I scan my own items, I deprive myself of another opportunity for human connection. A few months ago, one cashier at my neighborhood grocery store asked me if I live in “The Meadows,” a nearby community with lots of trees, walking trails, and a golf course. I told her no, but I have friends who live there. It’s beautiful. She replied, “You look like someone who lives there. I think that’s a compliment but I’m not sure.”
I don’t see her often, but whenever I’m in her line, she always asks, “You’re the guy I think lives in the Meadows, aren’t you?” I laugh and say yes, and then we talk about something else. I don’t know if she inquires about other customers living in the Meadows, but this exchange always amuses me. Who knows? Maybe she is seeing the future? I’d be okay with that. It’s a lovely community. Lately, when I grocery shop, I purposely pass the self-checkout area and stand in a regular line. I look forward to the brief interaction with the cashier and bagger and a possible glimpse into my future.
I know many of you don’t have time to go inside a bank or a grocery store. Perhaps you deal with a multitude of humans daily, so by the end of the day, you’ve had your fill! To you, I say order, swipe, and scan in solitude so you can recharge! This invitation might not apply to you.
But for those feeling a little lonely and isolated, I encourage you to take advantage of these small opportunities to connect, even if it takes a little more time. A joyful life is made up of small joyful moments. Go inside the bank. Talk to a teller. Stand in line at the grocery store. If you notice a name tag, thank the cashier or bagger by name. If you already do this, are there other opportunities you might have missed? The best part is each encounter has the potential to brighten both your day and theirs.
If you are looking for an opportunity for connection, perhaps you will consider joining us on Tuesday evenings at 7PM Eastern for our weekly A Course in Miracles online study group. All are welcome whether you are a long-time student or are brand new to this powerful teaching. For more information about the Course and our group, click here.
This week, may you savor every opportunity for joyful connection!
When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.
A Course in Miracles ~ T-8-III.4:1-5