We struggle, all of our lives, from birth to death, trying to make connection. Connection with other life, connection with our environment, with our souls, our emotions. Our most primal biological imperative is to reproduce, to send forth a new generation of our species, to connect so deeply with another human being that a new life is formed of us. It is impossible to deny this primal programming even while we might cheat the odds with birth control or abstinence. All of our behaviors can be traced back to this most basic of our evolutionary goals. It is so far beneath our consciousness, in the bowels of our genetic makeup that we are seldom aware of any correlation between our habits and the biological imperative that drives them. But it is, nonetheless, there.
Long-term connection is not easy. We are each programmed so differently that good matches are rare and precious. When we find one, it is undeniably right. The person that we successfully partner with will unconditionally love everything about us, will make us better than we were before, will bring forth a joy in us that is impossible to overlook. This person will remove all doubt in our minds about whether or not there is some dance we need to do, right now, with them. They will love us, and respect us, and trust us—they will put our needs above their own. And they inspire us to do the same for them.
It isn’t easy. It must be searched for, relentlessly, almost with our eyes closed. We literally check out every person we meet with this search criteria in our subconscious mind. We silently say “Yes”, “No” or “Maybe” to ourselves as many times a day as the new faces we meet. It’s done in an instant, often without our conscious oversight. But these micro-decisions drive our actions, all day long, every day whether we are aware of them or not. The search will make us question things we think we know, and give up things we think we like, and try things that scare the hell out of us.
The rewards of connection are not as obvious as the reward of a good meal or a fine wine. They are neither as dazzling nor as transient as a win on the field or great episodic television. Even though a connection without great pleasure as a reward is most often a damaged connection, the rewards of connection show up more in crisis than in pleasure. It is deep in the chaos of tragedy that partners most find their true individual natures, their true ways of relating with each other, and their true reasons for bonding. It is in the light of the worst of our times that we illuminate the joy we feel from being with each other.
Connection should not be forced, although it can certainly have its moments of utter awkwardness. It should always make us feel more of ourselves, not less. It is well worth waiting for the right connection to happen, tasting the fruits and smelling the roses along the path, and only giving our hearts freely when we know we want to. We give of ourselves even while fearing a connection might end in pain, because connection often comes with an expiration date—and the very act of BEING is a learning experience. The knowledge we hold of who we are is constantly changing, growing, evolving—even while holding our essential essence constant from birth to death. Connection changes us. Connections end because of the changes they bring to us.
As surely as our thoughts rewrite the synapses of our brains, our connections change who we think we are. This is never more true than when one of those connections has set a new creature forth on this Earth. Children are the connection that changes us most. We are who we are, but what we know of who we are changes from moment to moment, always growing, always yearning, always seeking more connection.
Embrace the changes. Make them work for you. And keep seeking the connection that makes you more you, certain that amongst the flotsam and jetsam of failed connections there are jewels that are fully worth all the patient searching.