Connecting With Abandon
Lately I have been thinking a lot about these three words. I know it’s just a tiny, innocuous phrase but it has somehow popped into my head and it’s not leaving. Not only is it not leaving, it is making itself quite at home with no obvious plans for departure any time soon. So I decided I’d best make some room in my brain while I figure out exactly what it means and why it is so important.
I can only remember coining a similar phrase once before, about ten years ago. Loving unabashedly. I wanted so much to not only love unabashedly but also be loved unabashedly in return. Full-on, passionate, no holds barred, in your face, damn the torpedoes LOVE! For the first time in my life it was being offered to me and I had every intention of accepting it with all the fervor I could find. I had every intention of returning it with as much unabashedness as I could locate. And I wasn’t being greedy. I wanted everyone around me to also experience this unabashed love.
And now … Phrase #2 – Connecting With Abandon. So what does it mean?
We all connect with each other every day. We connect on the surface with strangers. At the food market the cashier says blankly “How are you today?” and you answer with equal blankness “Fine, thank you, how are you?” You might actually be worried about your delinquent child, going through a divorce or struggling with a debilitating illness and you say “Fine, thank you.”
This is not connecting with abandon.
We connect with our family members, our co-workers and our friends. Each relationship possesses its own language and we typically take great pains not to mix them up. I can connect with my friend C on a raw and honest gut level because we have big history and huge trust. With my colleagues I am frothy and friendly and go no deeper than a puddle. With family members I am working on being open and honest but years of ingrained “rules” often make that difficult. With my son I am forthcoming but also parental. And with strangers I am pleasant.
God, I hate that word pleasant. Because what I really want to do is connect with abandon.
Last year I wrote a blog about fear. Our fear of each other. And as I reread those words today I thought that must be it. We are all so damn afraid of rejection or ridicule we remain pleasant. We stay safely vanilla and our barriers stay up and ready. But you know what happens when you remain pleasant? You never connect with abandon.
I think this is why many of us, as we grow older, stop making new friends. We get set in our ways, we lose that boundless energy of youth, we are happy with our established posse of pals and we just get complacent. We abandon our abandon.
Well not this chick. I have decided to smash down the protective walls and open myself up to a different kind of connecting. One that involves an open mind, an open heart and a very open soul.
And here’s what happens when you make that decision. You start deregulating your connecting. You ignore old rules and societal conventions and you listen more closely to the universe. You allow connections to form that may seem unlikely or even weird. You respond to energy as opposed to words or actions, age or appearance. You really start to listen. And then when you hear something compelling you don’t back away in fear. You march forward with curiosity and optimism.
Case #1 – Back in my thirties I confess I was a girl who loved her biweekly manicure. Golly, I had long and lovely talons, professionally attended to with no expense spared. But when my son was born I cut those suckers off and never looked back. I was content with nails au naturel and a bit of home maintenance when I could be bothered. Then this past summer I realized my nails were breaking continually and looking pretty shaggy so I decided to try a shellac manicure. And that’s where I met J. My young, sweet, lovely esthetician J.
Now I suppose I should tell you that I don’t mind getting pedicures because they allow me an hour of uninterrupted reading time. But you can’t read when someone is working on your hands and this is one of the primary reasons I gave up manicures. I am bored making small talk to someone I hardly know for a solid hour. But that didn’t happen with J. We hit it off instantly. We did not make small talk at all. For some mystic reason we went straight to a whole lot of nitty gritty, to the point that when I left she said “I’d like to come and sit at your bar with a glass of wine and really talk.”
And do she did. And she continues to do so. Sometimes she brings her two young children for parties and barbecues. And the fact of the matter is we are unlikely buddies. I am definitely old enough to be her mother. We are in two completely different life stages. And yet here we are, becoming fast friends.
Because we connected with abandon. We didn’t worry about what anybody else would think of our weirdly wonderful friendship. We are just doing it.
Case #2: I am in a hospital waiting room as my mother receives radiation treatments. I overhear a woman whom we have seen daily mention to her husband (also a patient) that she can feel the radiation even though she is not receiving it. My ears perk up and without obviously eavesdropping I eavesdrop because this is something my sweetheart the radiation biologist is working on (another blog, after he is published) and I am intrigued. But I’m also not exactly sure how to proceed. Do I trot on over there and say “Hey, I couldn’t help but overhear …”
While I am mulling this conundrum doesn’t she just get up, trot on over to me and say “Does your mother like to read? I’ve written some books and I’d like to bring her some.”
Please understand this is straight OUT OF THE BLUE! And I am dumbfounded but ecstatic. Because now we are connected.
Well guess what? My mother and I both start reading, we are both delighted by this woman’s literary talent, I find her on Facebook where we learn we have 35 mutual friends and now we are connecting. With abandon. We are two like souls, she and I and our connection was inevitable.
Oh yeah, she is old enough to be my mother.
Much like M, a fantastic old broad who I classify as my own mother’s best friend. I grew up around M and her family (her kids are my age) and yet now it is she and I who are friends. Not just people who know each other but real honest-to-goodness friends who go out for lunch and drink wine and tell secrets and discuss emotions and feelings. Another unlikely association but one that we both cherish. And it all began when one time I broke protocol and suggested we have lunch. Without my mother. Nothing against my mom but I had a feeling M needed a good chat. And that we had.
When I look back over the past twenty years of my life I recognize that I have consciously devoted much energy to connecting with abandon. Sometimes I even connect other people with abandon and sometimes those other people connect so well our own connection is abandoned. And I absolutely do not mind. Because I know that I still have many more connections to make. This world is full of opportunities for glorious, unexpected, divine connection.
My mother is a very fine writer and in spite of their often, um, personal nature I always want her to read my blogs. And so she (usually) does. So does my sister (on occasion). And they both say the exact same thing. “You’re a good writer, Vickie, but you share way too much. Don’t you think some parts of your life are better left unpublicized?”
No. No I do not.
I just looked up the opposite of abandon and it is restraint. And no, I do not want to connect with restraint. My life is rich and textured and overflowing with a colourful spectrum of crazy characters, all of whom I love and am grateful for. And I can assure you this did not arise out of restraint.
It is because I have learned to connect … with abandon.
I hope you will too.