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Pat Dryburgh

i got to the till and paid for my half fresh/half processed to the max submarine that i looked forward to more than most anything else happening that day. i looked around the christmas-crowded mall food court for an open seat. i found several, but most had a similar problem - they were all near other people. not wanting to feel awkward, i walked halfway across the room to sit at a table that had a buffer of one empty table at least on one side. i walked up to the table and sat at the furthest chair to me…because the other chairs would have made me sit eye to eye with a few people at another table. i sat, facing the back of a woman in the table in front of me. my plan had worked. i had found the one table that would provide me the comfort of knowing i need not make eye contact with anyone. and then…i froze.

i began to wonder about all of the thoughts that had played out in my head as i was finding a table. i wondered how much time and thought i’ve put in through my life towards trying to avoid that human connection. how often have i sat alone at a table, for fear of having to converse with people close to me? how often have i not responded to someone on msn not because i don’t like them or think anything less than great things about them, but simply that i was not in the mood to talk? how often have i avoided sending that email or that text message or making that phone call because i wanted to remain comfortable?

i wondered then how often we as humans have done this as a whole. i looked around and even in this season of love and caring, we don’t look each other in the eyes as we walk past in the mall. we don’t smile at one another, and wish each other well, no matter what time of year it is. we hurry by each other, never once thinking “i wonder who this person near me is…i wonder what their story is, where they’ve been, what they know.”

i dunno. maybe it’s just me…but i think as a society who’s just been recognized as a generation that is more in tune with one another because of the internet and communication technology, we are doing so poorly at making and keeping the real human connection…

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