Saturday, 26 September 2015

Getting Engaged

I knew that would get your attention.
No, I am not shoving an errant-sized ring on anyone's finger. Nor am I seeking a finger attached to a curvy homo-sapiens to do so. I'm pretty happy where I'm at. Thanks for your thoughts and concerns though. They are duly noted.
For the record, I'm currently in advanced ninja type training to be a dirty old man with a permanent, lecherous grin anyway and that's an endeavour best done alone.
Vaguely along that line of rationale, I've been to two beautiful weddings this year. Neither one was what one might call traditional. The first was done in a manner which was reversed from the usual order of things and an officiant who might do well in stand-up. But then, my friend J has never been much for doing things by societal rote which is why we get along as well as we do. The second wedding was outdoors surrounded by burgeoning farmers fields with a friend of the bride and groom officiating. My friend V isn't much for strict tradition either. (I sense a pattern here.) The vows at both weddings were intimate love letters spoken aloud for all to hear.
Yup... a tear came to my eye. Anyone who knows me well enough wouldn't see that as a surprise.
I was talking with a friend the other night... on the phone. Can you imagine such an antiquated thing? Actually talking and hearing a voice? Wonder of wonders, neither of us died from the experience. During the call, they said, “Isn't it odd we talk so easily to one another about anything?”
Personally, I don't find it odd we can become engaged with another person. It's what we seek because it's in our DNA. In today's world of impersonal communication, is it any wonder we cling to a rare real voice? When we find someone who has a lot in common with us, whether they are next door or across the planet, our psyche will latch on somehow knowing we have unwittingly (or perhaps wittingly) found a member of our tribe. It doesn't matter what gender or race or creed or sexual orientation. It matters if they think and feel about the world and people and the universe the same way we do.
For the record, I choose to believe our tribe will find us... or vice versa... if we're open to it. Just sayin'.
Here's where I can only speak from personal experience. When I become engaged in conversation with another person at a fundamental level, it doesn't matter what we talk about. It could be a discussion about fixing the car or if the planet really is going to hell in a hand-basket. I hear and feel what they are saying. It's called empathy.
I know I'm not connecting if I'm thinking about my next response without hearing what they are saying.
I know I'm not connecting if I'm babbling just to hear my own voice.
I know I'm not connecting if I'm surfing channels or the net while the conversation is going on.
I know I'm not connecting if the other person is doing the surfing.
I know I'm not connecting if all we have is a few notes back and forth on social media.
Engaging with another person is personal. A voice at the end of a phone is always better than a text message... and a lot less misunderstood. At the same time, texting or e-mailing or a note through social media isn't a bad thing when starting off a conversation. It's a great way to send a grocery list or schedule a time to pick up the kids. It's a great way to reconnect after long absences before a phone call.
Personal conversation where the topic is important and voice inflection means something should always be done by phone or face to face.
It seems to me society as a whole has become so disengaged we can't see the trail back. It also seems to me the trail might start with a text message or an email... and end by hearing a voice and seeing a face.
The love letters at the weddings read face to face were probably the most meaningful engagement I have seen in a long while. I can't imagine how dispassionate the ceremonies would be if those love letters were sent by text.
Perhaps that's the secret to re-engaging... writing a letter and reading our heartfelt feelings aloud... face to face.