connection, empathy

Not Social Distancing: Physical Distancing

Image: David Ramos/Getty Images


 

Dear world, can we please stop calling it “Social Distancing?” As human beings, we all need social contact to maintain emotional health. This Coronavirus pandemic sucks and using the term Social Distancing repeatedly isn’t helping things any. In our house, we’ve taken to using the term “Physical Distancing” to both better describe what it is we are doing and to remind ourselves that even while physically apart from our friends and extended family we can remain socially close.

Personally, I am making an effort to reach out to all sorts of people in my social sphere to see how people are doing and provide emotional support where I can. I imagine that most people are doing something similar, as we should be. And as the weeks grind on and we spend more time isolated from many of the people with whom we usually spend time, I sure we’ll continue to think of creative ways to connect.

Already this week I’ve Skyped, FaceTimed, Zoomed, texted, messaged, and phoned all sorts of people from coworkers to family members to friends with whom I’d fallen out of touch. And I plan to keep it up. I’m also making an effort to set up Skype sessions between my kids and their friends as sort-of virtual play dates. All of this is important. Each interaction helps. And it’s all social.

Each day, my family is getting out for a morning walk and waving at neighbors and exchanging pleasantries from a safe distance. Again, physically we are separated, but socially we are close.

If anything, it feels like the whole world is drawn closer by our common shared experience with this pandemic. We see videos on social media of Italians singing from their balconies and medical professionals dancing in full protective gear. Commonality builds empathy, and before this is over, every single one of the nearly eight billion people on planet Earth will be able to empathize with what it was like to have battled this novel Coronavirus.

So, let’s all make an effort to remain socially close while we practice Physical Distancing. And – as has become my catch phrase: Stay safe. Stay healthy.

With Love,

Matt Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

(Postscript: My heart goes out to each and every person who has, is, or will suffer from COVID-19. Please know that you are in my thoughts. Much love to anyone the world over who has lost someone to this terrible disease.)

connection

We’re All Connected

The English Channel from space (Image: YouTube)


 

By Rochelle Leon

My friend Les is one of the most spiritual people I know. He often says the phrase, “We are all one,” or “We’re all connected.” I think it’s even part of the permanent signature line at the bottom of his emails. Before, when I heard this axiom, whether from Les or anyone else, I’d think, “Sure, okay, we’re all connected, makes sense.”

My thoughts on the subject were sincere, but not exactly deep. I took it more at face value, like a universal, spiritual truth, but I never really knew what it meant. I hadn’t actually thought about the how or the why. The sheer vastness of it seemed too complex and I wasn’t able to actually process the logistics of these “connections.” Perhaps I just wasn’t Zen enough to get it?

Then, recently, I had a realization about how often we’re touched by events that have nothing to do with us personally, yet still affect us as if they did. It was in this moment that I started to understand this principle. I stopped looking at it as a theory and started feeling it as a belief. And I have to tell you, I really haven’t been the same since.

Now, I’m no expert (if you’d like one, I can refer you to Les), but I thought this new way of looking at this concept “we are all one” was worth sharing.

Okay, yes, we’re all connected! Another less spiritual, though still universal truth is that people LOVE sports analogies (and even though I know very little about sports) I’m going to attempt to use one now! Here goes…

When you tune in to watch a big game – lets say basketball for example – most people focus on the players, the score, perhaps the coaches or the crowd. Do you ever think about the fact that literally hundreds if not thousands of people all have had a hand in your experience? In enjoying this one, single game? Think about all the people involved… those who sold the tickets, built the stadium, literally stitched together the player’s sneakers… the sports agents who negotiated the athlete’s contracts, the factory workers who made the basketballs, the parents who encouraged their sons to work hard and play their best… the cameramen who film the game, the people who wash the uniforms… and on and on and on!

You wouldn’t think that any of these people are connected to you, right? But they are! The experience you’re having right at that moment is because of them, it’s a collective one not just a personal one! And that goes for EVERY experience you have ever had or will ever have, in your entire life! Whatever you do, wherever you go, whatever you have; the food you eat, the music you hear, the car you drive, the water you drink – it all connects you to countless other people. Some whom you know incredibly well, some just indirectly, and most whom you have never met at all!

Think about your favorite movie and then actually watch the credits all the way through and read the list of hundreds of people who all worked tirelessly together to create it. Now think about all the other people in the world who love that film just as much as you do, who know all the lines word for word, just as you do. Think about your most beloved author or sports hero or musician whom you’ve never met, yet who has inspired you, influenced you, shaped your life in some way, all from a distance, without any knowledge at all of doing so.

Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “Writing, the art of communicating thoughts to the mind through the eye, is the great invention of the world… enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and space.” Imagine what he would think of our world today and how we can communicate with one another through television, film, the Internet, social media, cell phones, etc. The ways we can reach each other – it’s amazing!

Now take this line of thinking from this grander scale to a smaller, more personal one. For me, it makes me think about the person or people who sewed my wedding dress. The most beautiful, most meaningful garment I have ever worn and until this very moment, I have never paid any mind to the people who actually made it for me. I don’t even know who they are or even where they are. Not to mention the designer or the buyer for the store and on and on, all of who made my dream wedding dress a reality for me.

I also think about all the people who worked at the hospital on the days I gave birth to my children. I only remember the name of my obstetrician, not the names or faces of the nurses or the hospital staff, yet they were all integral in two of the most important experiences of my life.

When I went into labor with my first child, my water broke in the lobby of the hospital. Somebody cleaned that up!!! Did I even think about who that person was or to say thank you to them? Hopefully, I said thank you to all of the other people that I interacted with that day. So many people helped me to safely give birth to my two beautiful, healthy children and I am so humbled by that gift, and by all the people – most of whom are complete strangers to me – who helped give that to me.

It’s almost staggering when we start looking at life this way. When we start realizing that we are all part of each other’s experiences, that all of our lives are interwoven together in countless ways we can’t even begin to fathom. The gratitude and the sense of responsibility become overwhelming. And that awe grows even further when we think of how many of these people we never actually meet or see or even know who they are or even what their exact contribution is, but it exists and is powerful just the same!

Now, on top of all of that, think about the ways we connect that we don’t even fully understand. The invisible, unseen, eerie connections, the kind that give us all goose bumps and freak-you-out more than just a little bit when they catch you by surprise. Like, when you think of someone you haven’t seen in years and then out-of-the-blue you run into them the next day at the market. When you think to yourself that you’ve got to call your sister and then the phone rings at that exact moment and it’s her! When you meet someone for the first time and you feel a remarkable and inexplicable bond with them, like you’ve known them for years when you’ve only just met! These kinds of connections are real and powerful, even if completely illogical, which is why they send chills throughout our whole bodies when we feel them.

Our planet is billions of years old and yet we are all here at the same time, together, inexorably linked. That has got to mean something inherently meaningful! It makes you realize we’ve all got to be so much more aware, deliberate, and purposeful in our actions, reactions and interactions because everything we do and say has profound, far-reaching, rippling effects, casting far out into the Universe! As President Lincoln put it, throughout “time and space.”

So then, we are all in a constant state of either doing good or causing damage. Our consciousness of it makes no difference, it’s happening either way. It’s happening right now. Thus, we are all tasked with a huge responsibility, not only to ourselves, but to everyone and everything on this planet, including those who came before us and those who will be here long after us. If we can do this, if we can recognize this connection… well, just imagine the results! What a better place the world would be! And why not make the world a better place, since we’re all in it, together.

Rochelle Leon


Rochelle Leon is a writer, wife and mom. She formerly owned a greeting card company and is currently working on a novel. Rochelle has a passion for compassion and believes in a brighter future where everyone is a little kinder to one another. She lives in Southern California with her family.