photo: Clarisse Meyer

I had a lesson in connection, recently. At first, it barely made it through the door. But it kept tapping and when I let it in, it had connection written all over it. It surprises me that it is a lesson I need repeated so often.

Neighbors, six country blocks from my home, leave their trash bins at the road-side end of their driveway long after the trash collectors have come and gone. Of course, given that the bins are filled throughout the week, trash falls out and blows around their yard and the adjacent yards. It makes a messy, unsightly drive-by several times a day. We don’t know these neighbors, not even their names – they are veritable strangers. The six blocks may as well be 60 miles: who has the time? Yet, we have time to belly-ache about this inconsideration weekly, even to the point of asking the city councilors if there is a town ordinance preventing such trash-bin-trashiness. (They didn’t know.)

Then, just last Tuesday, I drove by another neighbor’s house just three doors down from our home. We’ll call her Alice. I know her to see her at the post office. We wave and flick a quick smile as our cars pass in opposite directions about once a month. And, I remember a decade ago that the ambulance siren raised shivers when her husband passed away. 

What made last Tuesday’s drive-by different was that I noticed, as if for the first time, that Alice had trash bins at the end of her driveway too. Truth be known, her house is nothing short of ramshackle. AND YET, when I drove past this neighbor’s house, I thought to myself, “Gee, I sure hope Alice is doing ok and that she is enjoying her new baby granddaughter!”

The difference of course can be described by many names, but “connection” works just fine. With Alice, my thoughts are “people-first” because we have a teeny, tiny bit of history shared, barely more than a face and a name, but that’s enough for connection. And with connection, everything tied to the bumper came along for the ride: compassion, empathy, caring, concern, patience and understanding. Heart.

It’s not a lesson if it doesn’t change behavior. So, I’ve made a resolution for this and many years to come: Whenever I drive by the distant neighbor’s house, prompted by their trash bins, I will raise a hand, flick a smile and think to myself, “I hope your family is doing okay and that you are enjoying this day.”

4 Comments

  1. Chris Bond

    This speaks volumes. Thank you for sharing, Susan! I will honor this insight whenever I begin a negative thought about a neighbor or other acquaintance who has done something annoying…

    “with connection, everything tied to the bumper came along for the ride: compassion, empathy, caring, concern, patience and understanding. Heart.”

    Reply
  2. Julie

    Breaching the divide between “us” and “them”, creating connections which allow us to see the “other” is so important. Small things (a smile, a wave) create big changes.
    Thanks Susan.

    Reply
  3. Heather Binns

    I love this Susan! A great lesson for all of us!!

    Reply
  4. Iris Maxfield

    This springs to mind the quote Kay has on her website.

    The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
    Proust

    Reply

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of yogis, dogs and humans

Connection, as expression of trust, relationship, and finally of the deep attraction, which develops so easily between dogs and their human fellows, stains every single interaction and can be used as a potent reinforcer.

Connection starts with invitation

Connection thrives in the absence of expectations, a precious freedom that fills the space between two beings when there is no agenda, no time limit, no “have to get it done.”

Connection is a dynamic quantity

Connection is a dynamic product of three ingredients: an emotional bond, memory and mental focus.

A deep trust and love for each other

I learnt about connection with my horse Magnum. He was untouchable when he came to us, caught wild, taken to the sales – and ended up with us – because my daughter fell in love with him.

A lesson in connection

At first, it barely made it through the door. But it kept tapping and when I let it in, it had connection written all over it. It surprises me that it is a lesson I need repeated so often.

Feeling comfortable

We take time to train, but how connected are we as their trainer?

What does connection look like?

It comes in many forms. Walking together, sitting quietly together, sharing a mental or physical task. Individuals can be connected without looking at each other; just feeling each other’s presence is perhaps the strongest type of connection. These activities can all be done with or without connection, but with connection they appear fluent.

Connection: A Conversation for Life

In the busy-ness of life connection can be the last thing considered. Living with a dog is about developing a relationship and all successful relationships are based on connection.
So just what is connection and why is it important?

Connection is reinforcing

Dogs will often choose how they maintain their connection with you. This connection, the thread that binds the pack, is an invisible and easily dismissible element. Connection is not black and white, it comes in lots of shades of colour and intensity and it is developed between both recipients.

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