This week the slowdown continues. The dismay of those hit hard by Sandy continues. There are no words. Yet, there is an intimacy in relationships that has emerged in different ways. Parts of New York look untouched. Others look like a literal 50 shades of grey. It’s cold and snowing outside tonight. Many are without heat or electricity. Too many are without homes to return to. Yet, people connected, often with strangers. New Yorkers showed up in droves to volunteer. So much so that at some sites, there were calls for more resources and less volunteers. Shared info via the web which could then be shared word of mouth or via the phone to those without connection.
Other people opened their homes. My apartment is below someone I’ve known since I was 18. She is one of my longest friends, yet we can go weeks without seeing each other. She opened her apartment and it became a safe haven. I spent a great deal of the storm up there. We spent time together. We talked to each other. We shared music, online videos and stories with each other. We cooked for each other. There were several moments of joking and making each other laugh. Other people came by to warm up, get online or simply break up the cabin fever from being wherever Sandy had landed them. It was really nice to have true human connection between the anxious checking of the news reports.
There were moments over the days when we all tuned in to doing our own thing. This one watching some streaming program or other. That one listening to music and social media surfing. Another one on the phone. Someone drawing. Me eating Almond Joys. Yet, we were all together. Because time had been spent fully engaging with one another, the moments of shift to individual activity didn’t feel like being ignored. How much time do we take these days to fully engage each other? I can admit this was the first time in a long time I relaxed into not having a busy, tightly booked schedule. I gave myself the permission to not do anything productive. I even had some really fun e-mail exchanges with friends and had time to click on links before I reply (yes, it’s the little things sometimes that hold the most weight). I gave myself permission to take care of myself. I wasn’t feeling well but hadn’t really slowed down enough to do true self-care. I gave myself permission to do nothing but care for myself and the people who were around me. For example, I was bartender, chef, jester, listening ear, crafting buddy, rehearsal mate and allowed the same to be done for me.
I’ve had constant questions swirling around in my head. This Presidential campaign alone showed me in Technicolor how much time we spend telling other people that what THEY believe is wrong and what WE think is correct. How often do we take the time to be present and really connect? No cell phone, no laptop, no technology, just being a focused presence for one another. How often do we really have conversations? Are we able to be friends who listen and offer support as opposed to criticism? Can we hear an opinion that is the polar opposite of ours and simply hear it without feeling the need to defend our own opinions? Are there times where we exchange what we know to help someone else get where they want to go with no strings attached, expecting nothing in return? Are we able to really hear when loved ones tell us what they need? Do we even bother to ask, “How can I support you?” How can we make our connections romantically, with friends, co-workers or otherwise more intimate?
These past few weeks have me savoring the value of truly being present with each other.