Human Connection in the City

HumanConnection

I was contemplating the current state of humanity as I nonchalantly passed by a homeless man sleeping on a dirty sheet of cardboard on the sidewalk. The indifference I felt as I made my way to the train after a long 10-hour day at work was familiar and comfortable. It’s easy not to connect.

And who can blame us? After Sandy, after the Newtown shootings, and  the bombings in Boston, it’s hard to keep our hearts open. It simply hurts too much to wonder why there is so much pain. This questioning of “why” leaves us with no true answers, only angry accusations masking deep hurt, or cynicism protecting the fear of ignorance. We shake our heads and look up at the sky as if that holds the key to our salvation. We point our fingers with the desperate need to connect point A to a point B. But the truth is that there are no answers. Life simply is. 

Lost in this contemplation as I passed the homeless man, the irony was not lost on me. Until we as a species can truly find a way to turn away from fear and towards love, tragic events will continue to occur. A future of complete indifference as every day a new disaster strikes doesn’t seem that far-fetched for my future children. Pain and suffering, war and poverty, incredible violence, and natural disasters have been around for as long as man has. But in today’s world of information and technology in which one can simply tweet condolences and return to their daily doings, it’s worrisome. Sometimes I wonder if things were better when we didn’t know immediately. Something terrible would happen and we may have found out days later.  Now we know instantly. But what do we do about it? 

Giving blood, donating goods and money, raising awareness – these are all very important ways we can help. And we do. I do. But until we truly raise total awareness within ourselves and really make an effort to live a more conscious, loving life, we are just going to keep changing the bandage on an infected wound. Sure, a fresh bandaid covers it up and looks clean from the outside, but until the infection is cured from within, it’s going to continue spreading. Gross metaphor, I know. But you get the picture.

As I was thinking about all of this, a man stopped me on the street and asked me for a small favor. It didn’t put me out at all and wouldn’t really take up any cost or time on my part but normally, I would’ve said no and kept walking. What did I owe this stranger? 

Instead, I looked at him and stopped. I pulled out my iPhone earbuds, smiled, and said sure. Why not? Especially since I had just been thinking about human connection, love and all that good stuff. He thanked me and smiled. He seemed genuinely surprised by my reaction. I told him to have a great night and continued on my way to the train. That was funny, I thought as I arrived on the platform. Then as I started writing this, the man appeared on the platform. 

He came right up to me and introduced himself. He wanted to know more about this human connection and love thing. He then proceeded to give me a card telling me he is a photography student at the nearby college. I told him that I worked in film. We started to talk about different cameras when a nearby woman asked if she could have his card too. Turns out, she is a make-up artist. We all chatted a bit more and I couldn’t help but smile. It was surreal. Here we were, three strangers connecting and we could feel it – this moment of clarity and simple openness. 

The train arrived and we returned to our individual lives. I wished him and the woman a good night and meant it more than I think I ever have.

“Let It Be,” started playing on my iPhone. Maybe there’s hope for us after all. 

By Kate Moran

Kate is a Jill of All Trades based in NYC, with extensive experience in casting, talent representation, producing, directing, and writing, and sketch comedy. She’s currently in pre-production for her first short film, Are You Afraid of the 90s?, set to shoot in early Fall 2013. She really likes her electric blanket, Netflix, hot sauce, puns and double entendre.

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Chief Editor and Founder of Urban Spiritual, I’m a classically trained singer and actor living in New York City, who has performed in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also a writer, traveller, meditator, arts-lover, and well-being enthusiast.

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  • Beautifully put.

    I wonder if part of the solution is to get out of the mindset that we can change the world and realize even helping one individual is enough. The “I can’t change the world” invites helplessness and cynicism.

    It is really awesome when people can connect like you did. It’s rare, but in those moments this grander picture emerges. It’s a moment when people aren’t strangers, when people aren’t enemies, when people aren’t uncertainties, threats, competitors.

    One reason I like hanging out in bars (even though I don’t drink) is that when some people start drinking, they get open. Very open. There’s something really cool about this openness, this willingness to talk to a stranger, to find in another person someone to connect with, without worrying about walls or barriers. Sure, you can get into TMI territory, but the glimpse of how things could be is really nice.

    • Kate

      Thanks, bloggingisaresponsibility.

      I agree, it all starts with one. It’s amazing how just being more open can change the world around you. One of the best things about living in the city are those rare moments of transference – connecting with strangers – it’s beautiful and can brighten your whole day. And I love being out on the weekends at about 3 or 4AM when everyone is drunk and open – you can make some great friendships then. 🙂