I don’t know about you but I was reminded lately how easy it is to lose touch. To lose touch with oneself. To lose touch with others and with whatever surrounds us. To lose touch with what is important to us, with what nourishes us.
I have been travelling over the last two weeks. And when I travel, I am always mesmerised by people wearing headphones when walking in the street, or on trains and on planes. I don’t really understand the overt choice and refusal to potentially connect with others or anything else around them. It’s not that I don’t understand the need to sometimes isolate oneself. It’s the need to do it all the time that puzzles me.
I sat in a bar in Sitges, a beautiful seaside resort near Barcelona, last weekend and discovered that there was now a TV channel for babies. It’s called “babytv“. I found myself sitting not very far from the TV screen and I must admit that I got mesmerised again pretty quickly. I was imagining myself as a baby and watching the very carefully crafted animations presented to me at a pace that was clearly adapted, calculated or designed for my stage of development – as a baby. I thought it avant-garde of the bar to keep their TV switched to that channel throughout the evening. In my younger days, bars tended to stick to MTV. And it took me a little while to realise that this was a real channel, purposefully designed to entertain babies.
Ok, I will admit to sticking the young man, when he was a baby, in front of the washing machine with a wash on, when I needed him to fall asleep. It always worked, in spite of his clear reluctance to let himself do so naturally. I used to think that the washing machine hypnotised him. It was a good ally for a longer sleep for myself at the time. But a TV channel in front of which I could leave him for distraction and entertainment? When I could talk to him, play with him or cuddle him instead? Call me old-fashioned but I’m just very glad babyTV did not exist in my time as a young mother.
And no, I didn’t put my son as a little boy in front of cartoons to have some time for myself. I did buy all the Disney classics and sat with him. Then it was all the Westerns by the time he was seven – he probably was the only boy of his age who could visually identify John Wayne or Clint Eastwood by name. And it’s only by the time we watched “The African Queen” that I knew I had done him right. He must have been about ten by then. We were sitting together, as always, and during the scene when the mood between the two main protagonists suddenly changes, whilst they are still awkwardly conversing and dealing with each other’s presence on that boat, well , it is exactly then that my son suddenly turned to me and checked-in with me: “he’s in love with the woman, mama, isn’t he?”.
And we still sit together. We’ve got our Star War tickets booked for when he will return on his next visit from university. That is now the main activity we share together. It’s what we do together.
And yeah, it’s the same with the video games. We’ve played many together. He is the one who showed me how to “shimmy” along a wall, as Lara Croft…
All this, because I believe it matters to be in touch. It matters to be together.
Last weekend, I also built a labyrinth with construction flags for a large academic conference on sustainability – I am summarising the title which was much, much longer than that… Check it out here, if you are interested: http://www.cleanerproductionconference.com/. People came up to me asking questions, wanting explanations, needing to understand, needing to find reasons to walk the labyrinth. I found myself mesmerised by their reactions to it when I presented the labyrinth as a space for them to re-connect with themselves, to get in touch with what mattered, with what was needed from them. There was much curiosity, then puzzled looks, and sometimes anxiety, or fear. Some had the courage to walk it immediately, others delayed the prospect.
It’s hard to be in touch with one’s body and one’s heart when one is mostly living one’s life through one’s mind. And how many of us have not let our mind control our life, our choices and our decisions, at one point in time or another?
And I was helped and supported by many in the construction of the labyrinth. And I noticed how the experience changed their perceptions and expectations. How they welcomed and cherished the experience of a labyrinth walk, however odd it might have been at first on that hotel lawn.
On my return home today, I found the link to the beautiful video below in my in-box from a friend. It is what made me think how important it is to be in touch. Always.
Are you in touch?