Too far apart

many“There are too many of us and we are all too far apart.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

I’m writing these words with the knowledge that people from around the world are going to read them. People of all ages, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, of different religious beliefs. Most of them, I’ll never get a chance to meet. Most of them, I don’t know how they look like, what’s the thing they want most in this world, or what is it that they’re afraid of… most of them are perfect strangers to me.

Yet, simply by writing these words with these strangers in my mind, having the certainty that my words will reach them, they become a little bit more than strangers. They become human beings, just like myself, and that is a great achievement in today’s world.

Because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to realize that every single person we see walking past us on the street is another human being. We have become immune to everything but ourselves: we see tragedy and pain on the news, read about it in newspapers… it all feels fake somehow. We can no longer emphasize with others, just because we’re so many… so, so many.

And we really are so far apart from each other, because we all build invisible walls to keep us safe. It’s all about our needs, our desires, our pain, our tragedies. We want what we want, and we won’t give up until we have it.

There’s a distance between people, between perfect strangers inhabiting different worlds. That distance has to be traveled on step at a time. We no longer have time for that. We want instant gratification.

We want what we want, and we want it now.

So we no longer care about building genuine relationships with others. Social media, blogs, podcasts, and all that stuff… it makes it easier to feel less lonely. But this kind of interaction doesn’t change the need for real life interaction.

What I’m really trying to say is, we no longer care. We no longer try. We don’t want to build, we just want to buy it already assembled and ready for use.

Yet we still dream about the perfect love, the perfect story, the perfect ending. Yet we still search. The pursuit of happiness still takes up a lot of time. There’s a website for everything these days. The answers to our questions are just a few clicks away.

It’s not about physical distance, it’s about the distance between souls, about the barriers we build, about our unwillingness to let other people in.

There are so many of us, and on some days it seems we can’t reach a single soul.

***

Someone’s got to go first.

If you enjoy this blog, if you wish to help me release my future projects, you can contribute any amount you’d like here.

Yes, any amount. Even a dollar. Heck, I’d be extremely happy if you’d contribute one dollar to my campaign. It would make my road a little bit less bumpy.

45 comments on “Too far apart

  1. seaangel4444 says:

    Excellent article, Cristian. As a Canadian living in Chicago, I find everyone here moving so quickly, almost in a panic mode when rushing by others. Suffice it to say, I try very hard to smile, hold a door open for someone, and just generally connect in any way I can. It is a small thing, true; however, somehow I seem to feel better doing this, and for that may just lead to someone else doing the same. Here’s hoping! :)

    • Kavi says:

      I moved to Chicago from NYC and find people so much more friendly, relaxed, and slow-paced here! I guess it’s all about perspective :) Good for you for your kind gestures – I’m sure there is a ripple-effect!

      • seaangel4444 says:

        Kavi, I love your perspective! I love that each one of us looks at people, places, things from our own vantage point. Now with your comment, I am going to realize that Chicagoans might move quickly to me, but compared to NYC, not as much! Thank you! And I love the ripple-effect! :)

      • RaSoul says:

        Glad you’re enjoying the ease of my city! We’re a genuine kind of people. LOL! some of us, anyway. Welcome to the great city of Chicago. Hope it brings you everything you desire.

        I also agree with you, there is a place for everyone. You just have to figure out where it is.

  2. shanuwater says:

    “It IS the distance between our souls, but WHY? It is all chemically induced put into place by those in the power of control and to make us a docile people..lambs being lead to dalughter without as much, as a Baaa.

    Your post is truth! I wonder will the human race ever wake up before it is too late :(

  3. Gede Prama says:

    Thank you very much, I’am really glad that I’m following you. I’m still figuring out. Just wanted to say that you are an awesome blogger, Inspiring and May you inspire more readers essentially perfectly ok. greetings from Gede Prama :)

  4. HopeSpirit says:

    Funny how the biggest distance can land between two people standing right beside one another. Why is it easier to connect with someone two continents away, through FaceBook, then it is to connect with your neighbor, your friend, your lover? Any ways people encourage breaking the bonds of isolation, I support and champion! Hopefully, just by reading your blog, someone will take the initiative to stop and chat with their neighbor while taking out the trash, will hold the door for the person behind them, will strike up a conversation with their cashier, or will stop (this moment!) and tell their mate one reason why they love them more than anyone else.
    By reading your words (not just today), you have become more than a stranger to me. You are someone I send hope & light to you, you are someone I celebrate for when a new publication comes out, you are someone whose words I share, You Are Someone.
    Thank you for using your forum for positive action.
    And, truthfully, your appeal for funds was a little off-putting at first. But I admire you for asking for what you need too… another way to break the bonds of isolation ~ by letting yourself be vulnerable to others.
    Namaste

  5. K. Adams says:

    I miss the small town I grew up in. When you drive down the street, you do the index finger steering lift wave at half the cars you pass, because you know the people in them. And there, it’s not odd or intrusive to stop by someone’s house to chat for a few minutes. Even though I live in a big city now, I still like to keep snacks and tea on-hand in case someone “stops by,” a kind of symbol of nostalgia and hope for a renewal of community. Thanks for the post.

    • amoralegria says:

      This reminds me of how a neighbor of ours reached out to the mailman yesterday, who was delivering mail in the bitter cold we are having in the Midwest. She invited him in for a cup of hot chocolate and ended up talking to a person who comes to her house every day but she had never talked to before. I’ll bet that every time the mailman goes to her house from now on, he will smile!

  6. Piscis says:

    We have become immune to everything but ourselves

    Eloquently spoken and sadly true. But I suppose it makes the times when we reach out all the more beautiful.

  7. billgncs says:

    I imagine our circle of people to be like the electron rings of an atom. Some can hold only a few electrons, some more, but when our ring is filled it is very hard to relate to others. I suppose that’s why famous people end up with an inner circle or electrons who orbit closely within their influence.

  8. Your post states the blatant and obvious truth. It is sad that we have come to this. But I want to leave you with a short note of my personal experience. There was a time not too long ago when my family was in dire need of help. The saddest part about it is that it wasn’t our immediate families that helped us. It was people who we only knew online, and thanks to those unfortunate circumstances we met them in real life and formed an even stronger bond. So even though it may seem you are somewhat estranged from the people surrounding you, there is a chance that somewhere out there is a person who will come through for you when you need it the most, even if they are miles apart and you never met them face to face.

    • Valentina says:

      I also met in person a few few of my online friends and now we are real friends. Yes, most people live in this world of virtual everything, which I call it “tragic” for the human race. Hopefully the thinking race will make it better for others and themselves.

  9. I’m not too sure. Too often nowadays do I see young people lead active internet lives, whilst their “real” ones are limited to all but the basest of interactions.

    Just last year I taught English at a Middle School is a semi-rich district of my city; imagine my surprise when I walked in on the first day and saw the children not running around, being trouble and having fun, but… sitting cross-legged along walls, phones and tablets laid out before them, quiet. And the worst part is, they don’t care. They don’t want real life relationships. They’re too much trouble. You need to pay too much attention. To stay on your guard. Making friends on the internet is easier. You can choose which part of you to show them, which part to hide. You have more time to moderate and adjust internet acquaintances, and the serenity of your bedroom to do so.

    There is no such luxury in real-life interactions. That’s why they’re so scary. That’s why those kids would sooner trust a stranger on the internet than their classmate who sits beside them in class.

    • amoralegria says:

      Relationships are hard, especially for middle schoolers. They are at that awkward age in which they want to start a conversation with someone but don’t know how to act, even though they have strong emotions. Whereas going online is “safe” and easy.

      I don’t think people are ever going to completely replace real live relationships with online ones. We are already hard-wired to react to someone’s touch, a friendly voice, affection. However, social media and cell phones can assist with this. Here’s how: I hate to call people on the phone, I don’t know why. But if I text them, I can say just right what I want to say and rather than intrude on their time, they can answer whenever it’s convenient.

      Another example: I can think of at least 3 couples who “met” through social media (OKCupid, gaming fan sites, etc.), made a real live date and fell in love. One of these couples live hundreds of miles apart; in fact, one lives in Canada and the other the U.S. They would never have met if it hadn’t been for social media. One of my closest friends met the “love of her life” on OKCupid and they are now engaged, have bought a new house – her life has completely changed (for the better)!

      One final example: My husband thinks I’m “addicted” to Facebook, but in fact it’s a way that I keep in touch with people, find out how they are doing and let them know how I am doing. One of my sisters found out our niece had a baby several days after the fact, and didn’t see a picture of the baby until I downloaded a couple of them from Facebook and sent them to her by email. I would have little to no communication with some of my nieces without Facebook; in fact, through Facebook I’m getting to know them better! (BTW they also live hundreds of miles away).

      So perhaps, Cristian, there is hope – we can “reach out and touch someone” all the way across the globe that we would never meet or know about without social media, and blogs like this one! I get notification of your posts practically every day – you are no longer a stranger to me, even though we live on different continents and are a generation apart in age. Maybe there are “too many of us” on this planet to be sustainable, but there is always something we can do to make a connection so that we CAN empathize and no longer be strangers.

  10. Love this Cristian. My biggest heartache.
    My question is… does social media and blogging help to bridge that distance? Or does it maintain it?

  11. simon7banks says:

    Electronic interaction is still in the real world. We just should recognise that it’s incomplete because we don’t engage all the senses and what we meet is what the other person chooses to show, more than if we also meet face to face. I’ve found e-friends who are supportive. One of the problems, though, is that compared to the traditional village or urban street, we can be so choosy about whom we meet on-line so we can lose the skill of living with and learning from people very different to us. We’re also in danger of forgetting how to co-operate with a community of others to achieve something, and while I don’t agree with shanuwater’s statement, it is to the advantage of some commercial interests to help us to forget community co-operation, because it’s easier for them to influence individual decisions in the market than a community on the march.

  12. lcsoup says:

    Interaction is very important! It’s good to realize this and try to strike a good balance in life – online vs face to face. Harder to do with our hectic lives, but I think life was hectic in the “old” days too. They had to work hard too just in a different way…hmmm.

  13. Taylor Moore says:

    Great point. And very poignant. But when you do find the Right People at the right time, it all comes together in a beautiful fashion, doesn’t it? It seems that every now and again, we find ourselves churning madly in a little corner of the world – wherever it may be – where we are truly content for a few moments, a few days, a few years, for some maybe it’s a lifetime. It’s not that you’re necessarily a part of anything bigger, but you’re a part of something better. Where there’s an overwhelming sense of perpetual victory all around – that only you and a select few have it all figured out, and that you’re taking part in something that the rest of the world is missing out on.

    To wit: http://driftersdesk.com/2014/01/02/hard-wired-days-and-unnecessary-nights-in-st-croix-u-s-virgin-islands/

  14. This post is so honest, and it’s sad how much this happens in our lives. We become so focused on ourselves that we forget to pay attention to others.

  15. Well said. This modern day alienation is why I think TV shows like “The Walking Dead” are so popular. Its a modern day myth. We must learn to really connect with each other again or risk being one of “the living dead”.

  16. I really like the idea you’re expressing here. It’s simple and challenging at once. We must regress to simple to reconnect if we are to truly advance and enhance each other. Human beings- a species lost in the World Wide Web.

  17. A lovely post Cristian..
    I too spend a lot of time pondering the connections we make.. Consider you made a connection here !

  18. Cristian, you are onto something when you write,”It’s not about physical distance, it’s about the distance between souls, about the barriers we build, about our unwillingness to let other people in.” However, the question I must ask is, where is God in this equation? I would suggest that were we to seek the One who calls us to first love Him and then others, that gap would shrink in short order.

  19. There’s lots of truth in this. I’m really liking your blog!

  20. lmg8593 says:

    Beautiful. Everyone is a human being with a story, with sufferings, with joys. Everyone is worthy of love and respect. But sadly, we often subconsciously forget these things, as you said.

  21. destinylund says:

    I very much so enjoyed reading this. I have shared your article & I separately shared the quote at the top on Facebook as well since I’m a quote freak. It reminded me of a couple other favorite quotes of mine, “The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.” – Shawshank Redemption movie, & “The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Your article is something I ponder quite frequently, thanks for being someone who puts it out there! :-)

  22. Ah, relationships. Social interaction is definitely important. And social awareness is important if we want to help and form relationships with others, too.

  23. Julxrp says:

    Awesome post Cristian..

  24. pdxpixie says:

    “And we really are so far apart from each other, because we all build invisible walls to keep us safe.”

    So true. I just disconnected from Facebook and Twitter because I want to try and connect more with myself and my loved ones. I’ve slipped up here and there, but I’m doing my best. Great article, thanks for posting.

  25. diversify26 says:

    I love this. I completely agree with all of it. I was too scared to invite our neighbors down the hall over for dinner but always wanted to. Then the husband’s mother became ill and they had to move an hour or so away to be with her and my husband and I ended up helping the move. Their last day in town I finally invited them over for pot roast and I wish I had done it sooner! It’s so rewarding to look like the odd-ball and put a pin in all this technological enthrallment by simply inviting someone over to share in our abundance.

  26. So true – it is so much quicker to post a FAcebook or Twitter message than arrange to meet up with a friend and enjoy a proper conversation, but we miss out on so much as a result. In our busy lives we need to learn to stop and really appreciate the simple things. Thank you for the reminder.

  27. I’d argue the exact opposite Cristian – that social media, blogs, “all that stuff” close the gaps which exist between us. Where there’s no possibility of real personal interaction, for whatever reason – physical distance, emotional distance, chronological distance – they make it possible still to engage and to remember and to remind and to reach. Without them, there would be people I care about but lost touch with in the physical world many years ago, who would never know that actually, yes, I do still recall their smile, their voice, their annoying but oddly endearing little habit with pencils… I understand your point in this piece and, to an extent, I agree, but for me it’s analagous to the invention of the steam engine being seen as a means of putting distance between people rather than bringing them together more quickly. Perspective plays a part.

  28. Reminds me of a line in Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over “in the newspaper today, there is a tale of war and of waste, but we turn right over to the TV Page”. Social fatigue? Self-preservation? Life is a trip no one gets out alive anyway. So start giving and caring.

  29. sensoria300 says:

    That is what the world has been reduced to…blurry fast moving images. We friend each other on facebook, follow each other on twitter, the internet is our home and we forget the real people that live among us, the ones that walk past us in the streets. Good article Cristian!

  30. creativeaqua says:

    “There are so many of us, and on some days it seems we can’t reach a single soul.” – You have made such a wonderful quote. Indeed, we live such distant lives!

  31. ruffiruff says:

    I am from Russia, and when I’ve read this post, i was some surprised, because when we visit europe or USA, there is the one thing that is realy shocked us – EVERYBODY SMILES TO EACH OTHER )) And we belive, that this people are realy close to each other. Russians смыле only just when they are pleased to talk with someone or to meet someone.

  32. Don’t be so dispirited, lad. Your writing is eloquent, but I hope these dark thoughts aren’t all you have in your head. If so, you are very much like me back in my youth. Although I, too, did not connect easily, it was because I am by nature an introvert – we just don’t easily connect. However, I am also compassionate, and as I reach out to help others, I see lots of other people doing the same, which creates a connection, however tenuous. I am also blessed to have been helped, another source of connection. Reading the comments, I see that so many others see things the way you do. Just think how much better the world would be if each one became the change they seek! Having been born, grown up and lived in the northern U.S., I know too well the phenomenon descibed above. Since moving south, I find a different, slower and more connected society. Not perfect, mind you, but more suited to my style. I live in a liberal bastion in the midst of a conservative milieu, so struggle is a daily thing, which helps keep me going strong.

    This is my first visit to your site, so pardon me if I have jumped to conclusions here. I’ll be back and reading more. Right now I have to get off the internet for my face time. All things in moderation.

  33. I feel the same way a lot of the time, but rather than focusing on the depressing state that we seem to be in as a society, it starts with us to make a change. We are now forced to be more creative in the ways we can establish connections between humans, so perhaps there is a benefit in all of this. Who knows for sure? But what I do know is that we can for sure turn the situation around. Whether it’s engaging in a conversation with the cashier you see every morning when you get your coffee or the person who hands out the free Metro paper in the train station.

  34. farahlr says:

    Respect!

    I agree in most of what you’re saying, but here’s the thing:
    This instant gratification thing fucked me up too fast and too soon (thank god) so now I have the chance to tell the essential appart from the bullshit “what do I really want, need and feel, and what is some sort of lie I told myself from what my family and society told me”.

    Now I give some maintenance to the relationships that enrich me, the projects that help me and the things that make me feel better (that includes service, for sure).

    I need to be more and more grateful and human each day, and this breaks those barriers (physical and mental).

    Today, even if it sounds gay, I’m grateful for that post, your blog, and the shared feeling of human disconnection in what you wrote and in the comments (I’ll be taking some time off to read their blogs, too).

    On the empathy side (sorry if I throw too much spirituality in there) I believe it is hard to be empathetic when you can’t see God in every human being, but it is easy to see God everywhere when you see Him in yourself.
    Much easier said than done, but I’ve had glimpses of true, human connection and I think it’s a spiritual experience.

    So your goal was met: today you and I are a little bit less strangers to each other, as well as to all the people who commented, who are all over the world, while you’re in Romania, and I am in some Spanish-speaking country.

    The imaginary walls have been breached, some random group of people, for a moment, are in touch. Genuinely in touch (that’s the wonder of the internet: I’m not reading your blog because I want to impress you, I read it because I’m interested, and I’m not interested in you or in the commenters because you’re rich, attractive or whatever, those illusions have been eliminated, internet allows us to see whats essential: soul and mind.)

    :)

  35. Rachna says:

    So true! The last line is especially touching – we can’t reach a single soul. I live by myself and sometimes after a rough day, I come back home and fiddle with my phone, trying to find one number in my phone book I would like to call, a person I can genuinely speak to, someone to just be with – and that in spite of having over a thousand entries in the book. Ironic yet true.

  36. Good post, Christian, one of those where I end up reading all the comments, because I find myself only partly agreeing with your view. Though I feel a lot like K.Adams about how things were when I was growing up, like amoralegria I think the way things are is not so bad – my kids belong to your generation and I see how they use both social media and real people to get the best out of life; jumpingfromcliffs has put it rather well!

  37. Valentina says:

    I agree with this wholeheartedly, and it reminds me of the poet walking around that famous Berlin square and speaking of the Germans needing passports before relating to each other, in this, one of my favourite films ever: http://youtu.be/3bZXO_xmnJc (Wings of Desire, by Wim Wenders, in case you don’t fancy opening the link).
    I contributed a little to your campaign, sorry to be so penniless but as I mentioned elsewhere, I might have been you had I less dependants, and may once again be you in the future, who knows! Good luck in any case.

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