“We’ll Meet Again……” Never Underestimate The Power Of Human Connectedness! By Dr Linda Berman.

“We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through, just like you always do
Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away.”

Human interconnection is a powerful and fundamental need. Whatever our worldview, religious beliefs or ideas about life, the urge to ‘meet again’ with others, in whatever way, is almost universal.

This post explores just how interconnected we are and how difficult coping with isolation can be, especially during this pandemic.

 

A recent comment on Twitter attracted much attention. It said, poignantly-

“We are all Edward Hopper paintings now.”

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Edward Hopper – Cape Cod Morning [1950]. Flickr.

Our need for closeness with and support from others originates in infancy; the baby cannot survive without the parent. The psychoanalyst John Bowlby’s  attachment theory  underlines the crucial importance of the parental bond with the infant.

He describes attachment  as –

“a lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.”

This need for social connection is hard-wired into our genetic make-up. It is necessary for our survival, extending from infancy and continuing throughout our lives. We are social animals, needing community and generally finding isolation and disconnection difficult.

Research has shown that being connected to others and feeling a sense of belonging is important in terms of psychological and physical health and quality of life.

Yet sometimes, we might feel the opposite need, craving solitude. This is a normal and common feeling as well, when in relative moderation.

However, those who have been hurt or traumatised, especially in childhood, may cut themselves off from others as a defence against what has felt like a hostile environment in the world outside.

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Edward Hopper – Intermission [1963]

Then, their isolation and loneliness can feel safer than being in the wider community- perhaps this is the ‘least worst option’ in a painful and damaged life.

Isolation During The Pandemic.

Many of us, though,  long for get-togethers, for reunion; at times of celebration, we arrange parties, dancing, concerts, to experience and re- experience the closeness, sharing and crowding together that feels so vital to many of us for wellbeing and enjoyment of life.

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How painful it is when we cannot have these experiences because of the pandemic! How many of us dream of extended celebration, of street parties with friends and neighbours, once this pandemic is finally over!

6924143862_e4c95e0129_oOskar Kokoschka – The Power of the Music [1920] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

People need people – for initial and continued survival, for socialization, for the pursuit of satisfaction. No one – not the dying, not the outcast, not the mighty – transcends the need for human contact.

Irvin Yalom.

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Yalom Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida – Young Amphibians [1903]

A poem that has spoken much to me about the pandemic is Adam Zagajewski’s ‘Try To Praise The Mutilated World.‘ The poem speaks of times when we were together, socially connected, at a concert or in a park, with others and with nature, with the beauty of the world which ‘vanishes/and returns.’

Then, joy of joys, I found that Salman Rushdie had thought the same thing and has recorded his reading of it on YouTube. What a treasure, what a find…….this special poem read by an author such as Rushdie. Wonderful… and so comfortingly poignant, now, at this difficult time….

Listen……

 

The Conversation.

“Only connect!”

EM Forster

We communicate with each other in so many different ways. Through facial expressions, movement, gestures, touch, through working, socialising and playing, in groups and teams, we learn to be creative together.

Our main method of communication is, or course, through using language. Conversation is crucial in our lives, in many different forms. We need to talk.

23120536140_4d5b44b66d_oSteven Levin – After the Party [2014] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“We need joy as we need air. We

need love as we need water.

We need each other as we

need the earth we share…”

Maya Angelou

 

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Itzchak Isaac Tarkay – Women at a Café. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

Through talking to other people, we confirm our identity, as we see ourselves reflected back in their eyes, their faces, their expressions. From the earliest of our days on earth, we come to know who we are through how others receive us.

“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.”
John Joseph Powell

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Almut Heise – Ladies’ Powder Room [2006] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

Conversation affords us social support; it helps us to discuss problems, to get or give advice, feel involved with others, understand their ideas. Conversation encourages a meeting of minds and helps us build creative relationships, as we exchange thoughts, feelings and ideas.

Especially during this time of crisis, we need to talk to others, to share our feelings and fears, to have the conversation about Coronavirus and how it has affected our lives.

“I believe that words are strong, that they can overwhelm what we fear when fear seems more awful than life is good.”
Andrew Solomon

“Speaking of things robs them of half their terrors.”
Ivy Compton-Burnett

The importance of conversation is emphasised in the fact that many famous artists have depicted this subject in their work. As you browse the selection of paintings below, see how differently each artist has treated this same subject; there are so many ways of having a conversation………

Matisse_ConversationMatisse. The Conversation. Wikimedia Commons.

 

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Cezanne. The Conversation. Flickr.Gandalf’s Gallery.

 

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Munch. The Conversation.

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Gauguin. Conversation. Wikimedia Commons.

There are also paintings on this theme to further explore by Hockney, Picasso and Magritte.

Thinking Holistically: Everything is Linked. 

Jung developed the theory of the Collective Unconscious; he believed that the content of our unconscious mind was made up of a linked, universal set of experiences which were genetically embedded in all of us. We are interconnected at the deepest of levels.

We are, however, not only connected with each other as human beings, but with the whole of the Universe; this is The Circle of Life.

Listen to Elton John, as he celebrates this amazing truth about our existence:

“I feel an indescribable ecstasy and delirium in melting, as it were, into the system of being, in identifying myself with the whole of nature..”

Jean Jacques Rosseau

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Sunflower. Flickr.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

John Muir

Sameness and Difference.

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F Luis Mora – Morning News. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr

How different are we really? Our DNA is 99.9 per cent like that of other human beings. Our interrelationship is an inevitable fact of life. We might not always recognise or feel this interconnection, but, nevertheless, it is there.

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We all live in one world; this is especially obvious during the pandemic, in that we are all affected by this dreadful global disease.

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. ”

Albert Einstein

“Not only do self-love and love of others go hand in hand, but ultimately they are indistinguishable.”

M. Scott Peck.

However, we are also different and our differences need to be valued, not denied. Diversity matters; recognising this is crucial.

Those who do not welcome difference will inevitably miss out on the richness of ideas and experience that others have to offer, the new learning from diverse others, and the resulting new ways of thinking.

“In our interconnected world, we must learn to feel enlarged, not threatened, by difference.”

Jonathan Sacks.

“Share our similarities, celebrate our differences.”

M. Scott Peck.

‘We all share the same sky and earth, no matter where we’re from or the colour of our skin…’

Dr Nikita Kinan

Claude_Monet_-_Twilight,_Venice

Twilight,Venice. Claude Monet. Wikimedia Commons.

©Linda Berman.

2 comments

  1. I am a believer of real human contact . The power of just being with another can be enough . Words are not always needed . The deepest empathy towards others an be given in body energy . It can be felt . A felt sense. The coronavirus has hit my need to be with others . I value this power of closeness . How wonderful to read your blog which again puts into words some of my feelings . I have written a piece of writing called ‘ the hug’. I’m not a writer tho but I’m finding it’s helping me to cope with my loss of human connection in these times . Thanks again and I’m looking forward to reading your work in time . Hugs to you ….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your very interesting and thoughtful comment I’m so glad you like my blog. I understand what you mean about the pandemic affecting our need to be with others. It’s very difficult, quite cruel in many ways, in that it prevents us from connecting with others. I hope we can all connect through our writing and online. It’s far from adequate but it’s important to share feelings at this difficult time. 🙏🤗

      Like

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