The art of human connection

The anomaly about living is the thousands of brief encounters with people and things endured constantly that untimely come to an end. Life has taught me that nothing can last forever, and whatever that means, death, love, friendship, a really good book—it all comes to an inevitable end.

For the most part, I’m okay with that, because that’s how I’ve learned that things work. Everything that begins has to end, like a movie that gets good in the final minutes, or just life itself. When my favorite book ends, I can reread it, probably noticing things about it I didn’t the first time through, like maybe a comma that means something different when something happens in my real life that allowed me to see it differently. That is how life works, a momentary intertwining with a person ends, and all that’s left is pictures and lingering sentences I try to interpret differently in my head. I can’t remember your voice, or the way you pronounce certain words funny—but I’ll try.

With this realization comes a lot of spite. However hard you can try to get into someone else’s head, there is truly no way of knowing how anyone feels except yourself. I remember the way a relationship was, but now it’s over, and I know nothing about you anymore. I can’t get you back in the way I first had you, and that is a devastating feeling. Do we miss each other the same, or is it just me doing all the missing? If we aren’t feeling the same in ways we won’t ever talk about, was our time together even worth it?

There’s a feeling in me that does think everything was worth something. Everything is worth it, because even bad memories are still memories. I remember you, and you might’ve been awful, but it helps that I can remember you when I need to, especially when I need to remind myself never to let anyone treat me the way you did. If I meet new people and my stomach hurts the same way it did when I met you, I know that it won’t be worth it to do it again. 

The best way to describe life is that it’s bittersweet. It’s bittersweet for a seventeen year old, and I’m sure it’s bittersweet for a thirty-five year old, too. One of the more beautiful things about it; however, is the everlasting effect people are able to have on other people. We grow and change through others, through things, through ideas, creativity and, importantly, through ourselves. Lesson learned, I won’t do that again, but isn’t it wonderful that I was able to know that? I think it’s almost poetic how we are all able to mourn pieces of our lives through every song, every hug, every good-bye, every hello, just as we are able to celebrate pieces of our lives through those things too. 

This idea can bring a lot of appreciation. An ending can be abrupt, but it can also be slow and gruesome. If I can feel something coming to a close, a lot of the time that keeps me from saying all the things I really wanted to say. I could say them in my head now, in dreams, on paper, but a lot of me wishes I would’ve just said them. Part of me wishes you could hear them as much as another part of me doesn’t ever want you to know about them. In a German translation of “Marguerite of Navarre’s Heptaméron,” comes the quote: “Is it better to speak or to die?” I think about that phrase so often, because nothing could be more prevalent than the ability to communicate. There is so much guilt and regret that lives inside of me due to the absence of speaking my mind to someone I cared about, or, still care about. It’s peculiar how in one way or another, we are all the same. We are humans existing together, and despite the fact that that concept can be confusing, frustrating and overwhelming, there’s sweet relief that ties those hardships together in a bow. How comforting is it that somewhere within all of our minds we might be going through the same things and thinking the same ideas? Maybe I’d rather risk opening myself up instead of dying with so many things left unsaid. 

Every May, I get this feeling. The school year is ending, a new batch of people are coming and another batch of people are preparing to leave. Some people I don’t even know, some I do very well, while others, I only knew for a little bit. It’s all strange, but there’s so little we can really do about it. Instead of grieving what we had, I’ll ask your friends how you’ve been. I hope that they tell me you’re doing wonderful things, and I’ll be happy for you. I almost want to tell them that I think of you often, just enough so you’re reminded that my back door is always open. I leave it open, so if one day you choose to come inside, I’ll smile and catch up with you.

So, how do we grow accustomed to rapid changes—we don’t. As much as complexity finds us, there is nothing more simple than finding peace. Things end before they can begin and things end before you want them to end. Approach life gently. It’s not worth it to be angry at things, at people, for too long.​​ There are questions you don’t deserve to sit with, questions that cannot be answered by yourself alone.

I wish to see you in the grocery store and wave at you. I know I’ll lock eyes with you and feel nothing but peace, because I deserve that. A momentary encounter, a brief crossing of our paths, and I hope you’ll wave back, so we can push our carts in the opposite direction once again—this time not feeling so bad about it.