Being born in the last century, I have fond memories of meeting new people in ways that did not involve some form of technology. No handheld phones to keep me busy while, for example, waiting for a gym class to start. Instead, I chatted it up with the people next to me. We learned each others faces, encouraged each other throughout the class. We were friendly and personable without being too invasive.
Today I went to one of my last classes at my gym, LifeTime Fitness. I love this gym. It is what helped me lose almost 50 pounds in 15 months. However, I know what I need to do now to maintain my health, and it’s a pricey club. So I’m moving to Golds for a $50 monthly savings.
And yet, while I’m wrapping it up at LifeTime this month, today I started a conversation with the woman next to me after overhearing her talk about gym fees. I’ve seen this woman weekly in class but never said hi. Sometimes I’m just rushing into class, sometimes I just want to do my thing and not talk. Sometimes women around me are checking their phones one last time before class starts. But also, sometimes I do want to connect with others and shout, “Yeah! Look at us kicking butt, being healthy!” (Today I did 50 pushups in a row!!!). She asked me if I’ve been in the class before and I said I’ve seen her in class for months.
It is funny, but also a little sad. We have our routines and the never ending checklists of things to do. Never Ending. We rush back and forth to things, and easily get annoyed when something trips up our schedule.
More than ever I’ve been feeling like we are so immersed in our own worlds that we don’t lift our heads up to see others – other human beings with something to offer or struggle through, living in our community.
I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately. And about building and sustaining friendships. Lots of barriers seem to get in the way of connecting to others in real life (not just virtually): Internet connectivity, long work hours, living away from where we grew up, having a child who goes to bed early resulting in you staying in the house all evening on “house arrest”.
I am going to try to really see the people around me – make small talk, do random acts of kindness, remember people’s faces. I want to recreate a bit more of what I remember of the 20th Century, where all we had were the people in front of us – not the people waiting for us on the Internet or cell phones. How about you?