Connection. That word is well-known and well-used thanks to social media. Our electronic conversations never lack the words “get connected” or “connect with me.” The social media applications—Facebook, Instagram and Twitter —are the top contenders that keep us connected with others. Through our connecting posts, we learn of others’ daily lives, who they meet, places they go, even the foods they eat. We connect, literally, with others through social media. However, our connections in the stratosphere of social media fall short. After all, we are human . . . with emotions.
Connections are attachments or relationships and when we plug into persons, places or things, we evoke emotion.
Consider three scenarios. Perhaps you’ve experienced this before?
First, you are taking a walk, a hike maybe, along a dirt path through a forest preserve or where there is an abundance of trees and other foliage. You look in the distance and see a huge tree that overwhelms you. The sight makes you stop and take full inventory of its stately trunk, a maze of limbs and a full canopy of leaves. You take a really good look at this tree and feel protected.
Next, you are walking into a restaurant, a bakery, maybe a friend’s house and you quickly notice a sweet smell in the air, sugary and maybe cinnamony. The deeper you breathe the welcoming scent, the more you feel comforted. You think of comfort food.
Lastly, you are sitting in a bus, train, the el and you strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you as if you already know her. You realize how you two just click because of the familiarity you are feeling.
I ask you to think about these scenarios to illustrate that these are connections that evoke our emotions. They also are connections we have to a good place to be, to home.
That tree you saw in the distance? You stopped because it reminds you of the trees that grew in the parkway in the neighborhood where you grew up. You remember their size and how their canopied structure protected you. You think being protected is home.
The sweet smell in the air? That reminds you of the sweets that your mom may have baked, ready for you when you would come home from school. The smells and scents are connections, triggers that make you feel comforted. Comfort is home.
And your seatmate? She reminds you of your best friend growing up from home. The familiar his home.
In my memoir, Under the Birch Tree, I write about finding my home, my place to be through the many connections I discover. I would find a way to connect to home despite the many disconnections I faced through my years of self-discovery.
And it all started when I was a young girl growing up in a red brick house on Carlisle. A birch tree grew in the corner of my front yard, near the front door and walkway. I saw this tree when leaving the house and when returning. I was captivated by its peeling white bark that looked like paper curls and its slender shiny leaves that wiggled in breezes. I looked at this birch tree as my buddy, by first learned connection, synonymous with home.
I would always find my place to be no matter where I went because a birch tree sighting would tell me that I was in the right place. I could find protection, comfort and familiarity wherever I was. I could feel at home. My discovered connections with people, places, and scents in the air didn’t stop there. I also learned that my connections served purposes.
There are connections to home around us and “get connected” can take on a new meaning. Connect through your emotions to find your place to be, your home.