How Can We All Connect?

How can we all connect?

Rubbing shoulders helps us connect

I spent much of my childhood on public transportation and airplanes. We travelled a lot. I was a gregarious kid and travelled hopefully in life. What was going to be the next exciting adventure? It helped show me from an early age that we are all connected. When I was about three, I woke up on a flight – probably overnight from New York to London. The lights were dim and I was bored. I decided to work the plane. I wandered around, keeping my eyes peeled for someone who looked like they’d engage with me. Probably not long after my mother came rushing over and apologized to the man whose ears I was pinning back. He laughed it off, amused.

Fast forward to today – I was telling my husband that I had ‘connected’ with the security guard that the supermarket. I go there regularly and we smile and say hi – exchange a few pleasantries. He even came over with one of the small carts, knowing I prefer them. Those little daily interactions help strengthen our bonds.

Life on on public transportation helps with fear of ‘other’

New York City, Subway, 1970New York City, 1970 New York City, Subway, 1970 New York City, 1970 New York City, 1970

Photos are all from The National Archives

Mum and I spent many hours on the London Tube, Long Island Railroad and the the New York Subway. We regularly took the subway to the Loehmann’s in The Bronx – the Kingsbridge Store. This was in the 1970s and many people wouldn’t go on the subway, thinking it too dangerous – let along taking it to the Bronx. Some might have been horrified that my mother did this.

Mum has a very good radar and we never felt threatened. She’s the type to strike up conversations with whoever happens to be next to her and find and instant rapport.  I learnt it as normal to chat with everyone.

Changing neighborhoods

I saw London change. My grandparent’s flat is in Whitechapel, an area that has always taken in immigrants, put them on their feet and sent them on their way. When I was young, it was still cockney and Jewish. As my childhood rolled along, things began to change as Bangladeshis moved in. The street market outside Whitechapel tube station evolved from cockney accented stall keepers calling their wares – always with laugh and some joshing – to fruits and vegetables that we didn’t know and bright colors against the dull London sky with spicy aromas from the new restaurants. 

See photos that give a good feel for Whitechapel in the 1970s
here and here and
this photo is how I remember just west of Whitechapel Tube Station from that period. 

How Can We All Connect?

I benefited greatly from these experiences which helped me feel that we are all connected. I met people from all walks of life and learnt that ‘we’re all in the same bloody human predicament’ as my mother liked to say. This was a great gift – I can approach people as individuals, rarely making assumptions. I don’t tend to go in with preconceptions.

Yoga teaches us that we are all connected and that has been my life experience. Sometimes it can be hard to feel that way when we meet people who are not like us. Deep feelings can well up: of not understanding, of fear of the unknown – and that is a signal that we have something to probe and figure out.

It’s only by bringing these uncomfortable feelings into the light that we can address them. One of the important things in yoga is to take time and quiet to hear all these voices – we need to understand them, or be at their mercy.

As we move into this year’s holiday season, our feelings of connection will be tested. We will be stressed as we run about. 

Tap into your connections with these free journaling prompts!

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