“We get to stay in a hotel tonight” A young girl, maybe around 5 or 6, announced to me excitedly, her small suitcase and bear in hand as her parents unloaded the car in the parking lot of the Marriott where I was also staying.
“Oh really?” I replied excitedly, as I paused in my mission to grab something from my car, happy to engage and totally caught up in her enthusiasm. “Have you been in a hotel before?”
“Yeah!” She said, as her smile got impossibly and contagiously big. “We are staying on the second floor!”
“Really?” I asked, noticing her brother running around the car to engage too. “Do you get to go to the pool too?”
“We are staying for two days!” He chimed in as she nodded her head joyfully, perhaps in response to the pool question.
What a couple of cuties! Kids are so great at engaging and connecting authentically when they are excited. I felt a rush of love and joy and I kept talking to them, seeing my hotel stay through new eyes of excitement and possibility.
“Leave the nice lady alone.” The mom chimed in suddenly, a tired warning in her voice as she yawned and looked at me sympathetically, perhaps apologetically, as if her kids were being naughty and I was more than considerate to put up with their chatter.
“Oh no, this is great!” I said, even as I realized maybe that was her transition to get them moving out of the parking lot towards the room itself. I felt the energy in me change from happiness to sadness almost instantly.
Are we so isolated these days we are teaching our kids not to engage or interact? That their excitement shouldn’t be shared? That talking to others is “bothering them” and it’s best to stay silent an in your own lane?
I know I’ve been hypersensitive to the awkwardness presenting itself as people try to engage with strangers these days. As if anything we say can and will be attacked or scorned, debated or opposed.
But what if I don’t want to be left alone? What if I am desperate for engagement, for excitement, for someone to remind me there is passion and joy out there in the simple things? What if I want to be looked at and smiled at and acknowledged, even if only for a moment in a grocery store?
Have we become so used to isolation, hiding, being socially distanced (for real, not just in physicality) that we have lost our desire and ability to just greet another person with a nod or a smile or even, God Forbid, a bit of laughter or a touch?
That’s why I wrote and released my book, What Happened to My Friendships? Five Steps to Navigate the Social Distancing Crisis. It’s available on Amazon as of October 3rd, 2022! We can create connection in our communities and cultures again.
Here’s an audio sample. Enjoy. Learn. And find love for yourself and others.