Meaningful Connection

16 June 2015


…What I loved as much as, possibly even more than, being seen was sharing the gaze.  Feeling connected.

~ Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking


I yearn for meaningful connection.  To others.  To myself.

I want to be heard.  And I want to hear.  I want to know others deeply and be known in a like way.  Among the desires in my life, communion with others is a long-term thread that winds and weaves through all my years.

I’m able to give voice to a lot of feelings.  I have amazing friends and family.  I ask questions and listen pretty well.  But still, I have so often stumbled and failed to create this kind of connection.   Because I have been too small, too timid.

Courage is required to step outside the walled garden of our hearts.  And to invite others into that fertile realm.

Just by seeing someone—really seeing them, and being seen in return—you enrealen each other.   

~ Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking

This week I’ve been with a person I admire and adore who is flamboyantly Alpha.  In the affirmation of his opinions, he’s not afraid to be arrogant, even obnoxious.  He does not question his right to take up his space.  I respect this.

I seldom claim my space this way.  Maybe because I’ve never felt that entitled to it.

I’ve wanted approval first.  I’ve looked for permission.  Something to make it safe because it’s a dicey proposition to be boldly self-assertive.  Judgments about selfishness, about self-centeredness, about self-righteousness run deep.  They’re all wrapped around ‘self’, as if ‘self’ is the problem.

‘Self’ is anything but the problem.  Without self there is no communion. No self knowledge.  Nothing to add.  Nothing to intertwine with ‘other’.

Somehow I actually thought the easy path led where I wanted to go.  That being a reflection of others’ expectations, an image that fit their needs, would take me to the relationships I wanted.  My safe ground was giving myself away to others.  The glass shards on top of the wall around my heart glittered warnings about risking approval, understanding, love.

Of course, staying ‘safe’ doesn’t work.

Distance is a liar.  It distorts the way we see ourselves and the way we understand each other.

~  Brené Brown, from The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

The approval I crave necessarily comes from within, from an internal sense of worthiness.  There’s no winning it with a sacrifice of candor, or the convenience of only reflecting the shallow pools and avoiding the deep still water.  That deep stuff—passion and curiosity, pain and uncertainty—that’s what lets us be seen and known.  And in order to go there, we have to plunge into believing our opinions matter, we matter.

Perhaps there is nothing in the material realm that we’re entitled to.  But, we are entitled to be ourselves.  To speak our minds.  To deliver our news.  It may sound cacophonous, but what if this is a way toward a world we want to live in?

Personally and globally, feelings of not being heard propel us into the explosive grounds of pain and anger, indignation and fury.  At times, I have a lot of legroom before that last territory.  Other times, I shoot for it at warp speed, turbo charged, all shields up, missiles aimed and eager.  Damage is done.  I hurt someone I care for.  I hurt myself by being a person I don’t like.  The world gets scarier.  I pull tighter behind my walls.

There is another dance, lilting and awkward and imperfect.  In her sensitive and insightful book, ’The Gifts of Imperfection’, sociologist Brené Brown, a leading expert on vulnerability, writes—

However afraid we are of change, the question that we must ultimately answer is this: What’s the greater risk?  Letting go of what people think or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?

Garden walls come with gates.  I’m nudging mine open, pushing it a little wider with practice.

I’m realizing that when it’s scary is exactly the right time to open the doors wider and to take the opportunity to examine why I feel vulnerable, to learn to trust this chance to grow.

The word ‘courage’ derives from the Latin word for heart -‘cor’.  It takes heart and courage to open that gate to who we truly are and what we want to be.  But it is in this kind of opening that I find myself, find the richness of the gardens we all inhabit and the joy of sharing the gaze.

I spent most of my life trying to create a safe distance between me and anything that felt uncertain and anyone who could possibly hurt me.  But like Amanda, I have learned that the best way to find light in the darkness is not by pushing people away but by falling straight into them.  

~ Brené Brown, from The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer



About Lisa Sorensen

I'm an architectural designer with a passion for exploring the stretch beyond, the lean toward what we yearn for.
This entry was posted in Connection, Curiosity, Facing fear, Leaning In, Trust and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Meaningful Connection

  1. katecurran says:

    Reblogged this on kacoatney.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. katecurran says:

    Lisa, your blogs just keep getting better and better. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate, I’m delighted you’re enjoying them. I’m pretty much the same way about what comes up next. Instead of planning this out like would be my comfort zone, I’m feeling my way into each week’s topic. It’s scary at times. I’m working on trust. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such an amazing endeavor, this blog. I love following your journey into you, and, life.

    Liked by 1 person

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