Reflections on Connection and Time

Time is weird and somewhat cruel.  It tends to slowly, silently and carefully drive a wedge between people who were once connected; friends, lovers, and even the threads that make up family relationships can be slowly pushed apart by time.

At first it’s not noticeable, a few days pass without contact, then maybe a week goes by without even a phone call, months pass by without so much as a text or email and eventually a year or two has passed and you’re no longer sure what your friend (or former lover, or family member) is up to.  As we age the speed of time accelerates and years fly by like moments, suddenly it’s been a decade since you last saw your dear one.

Then one day, out of the blue, there they are.  Maybe you bump into them on the street when you’re visiting your hometown, or maybe they pop-up unexpectedly on Facebook and you can’t believe it’s been so long since your last conversation.  You promise to hang out soon, to catch-up sometime, but it doesn’t happen, maybe neither of you really even wanted to; you’re different people now.

The years continue to fly by and now you no longer even know that person, whom you were once so close to.  Sure, you’d recognize them on the street but you don’t know what their life is like anymore, nor what they think or feel, like you used to.  What happened to them?  What have they done?  You have no clue.  If you happened to see them now, their life story would almost be as new and as fresh as a strangers, except for that one portion in which your life story overlapped theirs.  They don’t know you anymore either and you question how close could you have really been, to have let yourselves become strangers?

There are some connections that can re-spark, as if time wasn’t able to do it’s job of cementing the separation between two people.  In these cases, even if you manage to not meet for years, you can both jump right back into the familiar pattern you had established when you were once close, like no time has passed at all.  The distance time tried to wedge between you will vanish and your connection will remain strongly intact, like an elastic that rebounds after being stretched.

Other connections don’t quite work this way, the relationship, the comfortable pattern, get’s lost somewhere.  After a separation, time has wedged you apart so far that you find yourselves stumbling awkwardly through a conversation, feeling both the sting of lost closeness and the unnerving feeling of talking to a stranger, who isn’t.

The weird thing is, the connections you think are so strong and solid aren’t always the ones that manage to endure time’s relentless pressure.  I believe that sometimes connections between people that are really intense, like a strong sturdy rope tying the two together during a particular place and time, use up all their power during that particular moment, and it’s impossible for them to sustain the relationship as time passes.  Try as they might, the people involved may find it too hard to stretch their connection and make it thin and flexible enough to endure that passage of time, so it’s easier just to let it break apart than to try and force a painful imitation of their former relationship to continue.

Sometimes in life we may experience bonds that start off with a thin flexible thread of a connection, that neither person involved thinks is particularly significant but they grow stronger and stronger until one day you realize that this insignificant person has become your closest confidant and you couldn’t imagine your life without them.  These connections are not always intense but they are strong, stable and lasting, rather than drive a wedge in, time manages to nourish these connections so that they grow.

Feeling disconnected is one of the most painful states of human existence, no one likes to feel lonely and outside.  All of these types of connections are valuable to the human experience; whether they are the kind that arise quickly and can re-spark whenever a meeting takes place, the intense kind that vanish when circumstances change, or the kind that builds up slowly and grows stronger.  Hopefully we can find the beauty in each one while it lasts, because time keeps moving forward and keeps using it’s cruel trick of ‘change’ on everything and everyone.


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