2020 has been a year of reminders about the importance of connection. For many, it has been a time of loneliness, and an antidote to loneliness is connection. That could be connecting with others, connecting with nature, and connecting in a meaningful way with ourselves.

This year, meeting up with other people has been fraught with practical difficulties due to the pandemic. Many of us have realised that we took the little interactions of daily life for granted. But on reflection, the mundane everyday things that we have lost, on reflection, were in fact everything.

When we feel fully connected, there is a lightness of being, gratitude and a sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves.

Books on Connection

I have been reading a lot of books recently on this subject. Two of my favourites are ‘Lost Connections’ by Johann Hari and ‘On Connection’ by Kae Tempest that a colleague recommended to me.

Johann’s book looks at the epidemic levels of depression and anxiety and highlights 9 different causes. Some are in our biology but most are in the way we are living today. When we look at depression through the prism of society, there are some clues as to how we might have lost our way. Ultimately, he calls for the need to look inward at our difficulties and outwards towards society and nature, to find real connection and ways to overcome our disconnection.

Kae’s book was a joyous discovery that I simply cannot do justice to. It was written during lockdown and through her sublime use of language, it hit straight home to me. I devoured it in one sitting. She looks at how creativity, however we choose to practise it, can cultivate greater self-awareness and help us establish a deeper relationship between ourselves and the world.

I urge you to take a minute as you walk the kids to school, to notice the frost on the leaves, and connect with nature. Grab a pen and doodle or write a quick peom, just because you feel like it, and connect to your inner world. Give the dog a big squeezy cuddle. Lick the icing out of the bowl and savour the flavour. Join the ballet class. Go to the beach and run straight into the water. Be part of something bigger than you.

Here is a real treat for you, a poem by Kae Tempest, that for me is about connection with ourselves. I think this will delight even the non-poetry appreciators…

Hold Your Own by Kae Tempest

When time pulls lives apart
Hold your own
When everything is fluid, and when nothing can be known with any certainty
Hold your own
Hold it ’til you feel it there
As dark, and dense, and wet as earth
As vast, and bright, and sweet as air
When all there is
Is knowing that you feel what you are feeling
Hold your own
Ask your hands to know the things they hold
I know the days are reeling past in such squealing blasts
But stop for breath and you will know it’s yours
Swaying like an open door when storms are coming
Time is an onslaught
Love is a mission
We work for vocation until
In remission
We wish we’d had patience and given more time to our children
Feel each decision that you make
Make it, hold it
Hold your own
Hold your lovers
Hold their hands
Hold their breasts in your hands, like your hands were their bras
Hold their face in your palms like a prayer
Hold them all night, feel them hold back
Don’t hold back
Hold your own
Every pain
Every grievance
Every stab of shame
Every day spent with a demon in your brain giving chase
Hold it
Know the wolves that hunt you
In time, they will be the dogs that bring your slippers
Love them right and you will feel them kiss you when they come to bite
Hot snouts digging out your cuddles with their bloody muzzles
Nothing you can buy will ever make you more whole
This whole thing thrives on us feeling always incomplete
And it is why we will search for happiness in whatever thing it is we crave in the moment
And it is why we can never really find it there
It is why you will sit there with the lover that you fought for
In the car you sweated years to buy
Wearing the ring you dreamed of all your life
And some part of you will still be unsure that this is what you really want
Stop craving
Hold your own
But if you’re satisfied with where you’re at, with who you are
You won’t need to buy new make-up, or new outfits, or new pots and pans
To cook new exciting recipes
For new exciting people
To make yourself feel like the new exciting person, you think you’re supposed to be
Happiness, the brand, is not happiness
We are smarter than they think we are
They take us all for idiots
But that’s their problem
When we behave like idiots
It becomes our problem
So hold your own
Breathe deep on a freezing beach
Taste the salt of friendship
Notice the movement of a stranger
Hold your own
And let it be

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