Yesterday I got my first iPhone, an early Christmas present from my mother. It is a beautiful little thing, sleek and light and colorful. I spent hours downloading apps and organizing my interests into icons. It is amazing how much of myself I can fit inside something so small. I can hold my life in my hands.
All night my new phone dinged and pinged and swooshed with notifications of lives that went on living after I closed my eyes to sleep. And for all of the complaints there are about social media, about the over-sharing and the publicness and the distraction from the “real world” (whatever that is), I am continually grateful for every little noise that reminds me I am connected. I am not alone. I have an entire network of people literally at my fingertips. There is something really remarkable about that.
The work of my life is to connect. Every day I try to make connections – between myself and other people, between the past and the present, between what I know and what I feel. Every word I write makes a connection between one idea and the next. Every thought I think makes a connection between me and everything else. Every moment is a linking and a synching to the rest of the world.
On Wednesday night I had dinner with a dear friend, and we had a conversation that I will hold in my heart for the rest of my life. It was a beautiful little thing, to sit across from someone and connect, to understand and to be understood, to fit so much of ourselves inside something as small as a conversation. Every little noise – the sound of yes and I know and me too – reminded me that I am not alone. I have an entire someone who I connect with entirely. And there is something really remarkable about that. It is no small thing.
At times it can feel as though the world is the wrong size, or you are the wrong size in it – too big or too small for what surrounds you. The dimensions are constantly shifting. You get stretched and crushed and pushed around a lot. It is impossible to remain fixed as any one shape. It is foolish to try. What doesn’t bend, breaks.
The only way to survive is to expand and to shrink, and to know when each is necessary. Sometimes you can hold your life in your hands, and sometimes you need to be held by someone else. Sometimes you are sleek and light. Sometimes you are rough and dark. We all go through this. All of us.
And the only way to understand that is to connect. It is to open the icon of other worlds, to step inside them, to listen to their stories and to contribute some of your own. It is more than being social. It is more than networking. It is the sharing of a life. It is the sharing of yourself.
It is an invitation and a gift. “Come in,” you say. “Be a part of this. Understand and be understood. Love and be loved. You are exactly the right size and shape for my life. You fit into my world perfectly. Come. Let’s hold each other’s lives in our hands. Let’s never have to feel like we’re alone.”