Since this journey began, my head has been filled with shoulds. I should write. I should blog. I should tweet. I should network. I should learn how to get more followers. And the list goes on. I was surprised when the greatest lesson I would take away from this journey hadn’t shown up on any lists – the importance of human connection.
Though I spent most of my days connected to the world, through facebook, instagram, twitter, email, texting, letters and just about every other form of technology, I felt a deep loneliness. It didn’t matter how many virtual connections I had received that day, what I longed for the most was physical touch, someone’s presence, or a conversation – live in real time.
The most profound aspects of my journey were the people I met. On a parkbench, in a library, at a cafe and even on the ship on my voyage home, I noticed the connection between people and what good old fashioned connection has to go up against in this time: cell phone notifications, cameras, texts, selfie photo ops. I couldn’t help but wonder if we are losing the ability to truly connect with one another anymore.
I’ll never forget the moment in a Starbucks when all I could have ever wished for was someone to sit across from me and share a story or engage in meaningful conversation when I noticed two girls sitting beside me. Mid conversation one of them took out her phone and took a selfie with her mocha frocca latte frappiccino – cutting her friend off completely, to show her instagram and facebook friends what she was up to. It rocked me. It didn’t make sense. We have things so backwards it hurts my soul, my heart and my ego when I actually think about the amount of times I’ve done it, too.
Of course I see the perks of it all. We keep in touch in this now very small world because of it all. I know instantly what someone is doing in Costa Rica. I follow a Japanese Hedgehog on Instagram for goodness sake. But something is happening and our world needs a shift. My generation is feeling it and the generations after us need to be educated on it. We need to put our phones away and connect with our grandparents – our elders. There is a whole generation of people who lived through the world wars that are dying. I am guilty of it, too. My grandfather lives 2 minutes from me and I only go for visits every so often. He tells stories. I need to hear his stories and record them. There is an urgency about this that needs to be addressed. Yes there is a place for technology, smartphones and facebook – but I want to stand for connection in its truest form – in real time – with those around you who you love the most.
Our wedding video going viral has made me feel it even deeper. I have received lovely messages from people near and far. From Cape Breton to Australia and England to my hometown of Leamington. People are so sweet and the likes, shares and followers truly do mean a lot. The truth is, my wish for everyone is that to every “like” there is a hug, a conversation, a touch, a look…in real time, with those around you who mean the most to you. With those who if you were given one month to live, you would turn down all the computers and hug, soak their soul into your heart forever, talk about the big stuff, the life altering lessons that make you say: right, THAT is what matters most in life.
We are born to connect and there will be a shift. I can feel it. I want to be a leader for that shift. So here I am making a commitment to you. This week I will visit my papa, I will take in a sunset while resisting the urge to document it, and I will leave my phone at home the next time I go for a coffee date.
What will you do?