‘The brightness makes the darkness hell’.
This was used in a PGCE induction talk about poetry I recently had. Although it was used to demonstrate a child’s ability to use poetic writing (yes a five-year-old wrote this), I believe that this week has given me a massive realisation as to my meaning of life.
I’ve suddenly become a bit dramatic haven’t I? You see, I have realised that my happiness and contentment in life comes from connectivity. Complicated? Not really, it’s really simple if we think about it.
You cannot have a loud person without a quiet person; you cannot have a law without a crime; and you cannot have love, if you don’t know what it means to hate.
In some way, in every aspect of life we are all connected, and it’s those connections that I believe we all sometimes miss but, deep down, we really need.
As the child points out: without the brightness, we wouldn’t know what it means to dislike darkness. But what does this have to have to do with our connections to each other? Mark Zuckerberg had the right idea with Facebook, as the site’s motto tells us to ‘stay connected’. Although I wouldn’t suggest that Facebook gives us as much contentment as actual human interactions in person, the same idea is still there, that we are all connected… (In one great ‘great circle of life’ as Mufasa might say)…
But why am I suddenly realising how important our connectivity to others is? Well, connectivity, I believe, is also strongly linked to responsibility. Starting a PGCE in a few months time means that I hear this word a lot. But only recently have I discovered that my contentment relies on how connected I am to the world and my responsibility to myself, as well as to others.
People find their connectivity in all sorts of ways.
Some find it through travelling and experiencing new cultures, people, lands and traditions. Whereas others find connections between people and ideas, ideologies and feelings.
In the concept of the universe, we are someway all connected:
‘Before words, before brains, and before consciousness, there was the deep desire to exist, and the eventual discovery that it is only through relationship that we survive’
– Journey of the Universe, Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker.
But it is only through others that we exist and that we continue to exist. We can all have a sustained life, whereby we can eat, drink and sleep and ‘exist’, but what we truly crave is the kind of existence that involves friendships, relationships, intimacy, love, hate, desire and pleasure – the things we don’t need to survive, but we need to exist.
Our sustainable existence is not enough; it is through our connections to others, to things and the world in which I believe we can find contentment.
We live in a place where accidental eye contact on the tube sends squirms throughout our bodies. We suddenly panic when asked for the time in public, due to the unexpectedness of someone actually speaking to us. And, although we really want to, and nearly do, say it, many sneezes on the public transport go without a ‘bless you’ in reply.
I know that, for me, my contentment in connectivity is from my friends (friendship), my passion for teaching (responsibility towards people) and meeting those who also want to teach (continually making new relationships with those I’m connected to).
It is from making new connections and always looking for them that we understand each other.
‘A human being is a part of a 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. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us…
– Albert Einstein.
When you look into someone else’s eyes, what do you see? One answer is that you see yourself.
And the sooner we start to see ourselves in others, and realise that we are all connected, I think the world will be a much more contented place.
(The newly enlightened) Daisy Jervis