There is so much talk these days in our personal and professional lives about the importance of people ‘connecting’. Business networking is about connecting, good personal relationships need connection between two people, therapists ask couples, ‘do you feel connected?’ And the current mother of all connecting species: “friending” on Facebook!
So what’s all this connecting business about?
In exploring this with my clients and friends, my original question was: “How do we create connection?” But I think a more interesting question is: “How do we create what we do with one another?” It’s like the difference between ‘communication’ and ‘conversation’. Communication connotes the dissemination of already created information, while conversation connotes the creative activity of building a story together that did not pre-exist.
So yea – I want to create with people, not merely connect! This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by my mentor Dr. Fred Newman: “the only things worth knowing about another human being are what you learn in the activity of building something together…For what we create [together] is an extension – a continuation, a completion – of ourselves.”
We’re not finished products or objects!
Yes I thought…Connecting – like communicating – connotes that there are already finished products (us) that we share with one another, like two Leggos: two finished pieces you then put together to connect. Or two phones connected by the landlines from the phone company. The image we get is that there are two entities: separate, complete, whole, which are then somehow joined.
However, we are not telephones or Leggos. We as humans are certainly not finished or completed products or objects –remember!? Well, maybe we don’t remember that given our hyper-consumerized and… forgive me now… disconnected world. We are taught to see others and ourselves as Leggos. This is supported and propagated by the thing-ifying language we use regarding human relationships and interactions (connection, communication).
We are creators! What does that look like?
We are creators of our lives, makers of meaning and creating with others all the time. We build together, not just use what is pre-existing with which to share and connect: Having a playful session of sex between two lovers, doing a household chore between a parent a child, carrying out a project with coworkers, creating a play with actors, set designers, director, producers. While we use the term “connection,” I think what we are really pursuing is the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual activity of building and creating together.
It’s not just semantics…
So I am going to practice and invite you to practice using the language of creating together whenever we are pulled to say phrases like “hey let’s stay connected” or “are we connected”. I’m going to turn it into “hey I like creating these chats with you” or “lets create a dialogue on Facebook”, or “lets keep creating our friendship”, so that the spotlight is on us as active evolving agents of transformation and makers of our lives, not so much separate end-productions needing to find the right phone line between us.