More than our hearts can hold?

Sep 15

I mentioned a few posts ago that I have been getting ready for a garage sale which has had me going through lots of old things to decide whether to keep, toss or sell.  Since I am an avid reader and lover of books it means I have a LOT of books about which to make decisions.   This is always tough for me.  I often take stacks of books to the local library that I am finished with but it always tough for me to part with them.  Maybe I should stay there and check out a few instead of buying my own copies all the time.  Anyway, last night I was going through a stack and came across Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea.  This book was first published in 1955 but I am always struck when I read it how relevant much of it still is today.  In my copy of the book I have underlined many passages that spoke to me at my first reading.  I enjoy going back and revisiting the passages and thinking about why they spoke to me years ago when I first read them.  As I was skimming through the book last night this passage jumped out and grabbed me:

The interrelatedness of the world links us constantly with more people than our hearts can hold.  Or rather – for I believe the heart is infinite – modern communication loads us with more problems than the human frame can carry.  It is good, I think, for our hearts, our minds, our imaginations to be stretched; but body, nerve, endurance and lifespan are not as elastic.  My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds.”

Wow – those are words that were written in 1955!  Can you imagine what a person who felt that modern communication in 1955 was too much would think of the interconnected information age that we live in?  Hundreds of facebook “friends”, Twitter feeds by the thousands, multiple 24 hour new channels and on and on are constantly vying for our attention and begging our hearts to respond with connection, caring, money, support, etc.

Do these “tools” help us to be able to “respond to more hearts”, maintain better connection?  Or do they only provide a shallow pool in which to wade and pretend that we are connected?  People, businesses and causes use them to reach out to us.  Sometimes they reach us, sometimes they don’t.   Sometimes the more “connected” I am the more disconnected I feel.  Relationships held together by 240 character snippets seem shallow and insignificant.  Can I really know a person by their daily posts and comments?

But then I see the opposite side as well.  After just returning from a truly inspiring Leap of Faith climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, I see how these social tools can help us connect and share at an even deeper level.  After returning we’ve been able to share our photos, videos and experiences much more easily with each other despite the fact that we live all over the place.  We’ve been able to continue to share ourselves with each other and learn more about what matters in each of our lives.  Its really puzzling to me how something that seems so superficial can really enable the deepening of relationship.

On the negative side again is the the competition for my attention that all these electronic tools present.  I sit in front of my computer clicking away, skimming on the surface rather than reading a good novel or story.  I tap away at my iPhone while one of my children is trying to talk to me paying only half attention to both.  How is this enriching my life?  How would my life be without these tools?  Would I write letters and send pictures telling my new found Kili friends more about myself and asking them more about themselves?  I like to think I would, but I know that I wouldn’t.  Would I have reconnected with one of my dearest friends from childhood who was all but lost to me until I searched for her name on the internet?  I don’t know if I would have been able to find her again.  How tragic that would have been.  But would I have even known how tragic?  Is my awareness increasing with these new tools?

What about my ability to respond to the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds?  There are so many causes that call out to me – hunger and famine, tragic fires and earthquakes, food safety and security, diseases that have touched people I love, inspirational people and stories.  How can my heart respond to them all?  How can I as a single person make a difference?  Maybe before, in the time of 1955, that was very, very difficult but now these tools make it possible for ME a solitary person to have a much larger impact on the world and those to whom my heart responds.  With the click of a mouse I can make hundreds of friends and followers “aware” of something that touches my heart.  Maybe they don’t all read what I send or what I write but even if one or two do then I have made more of a difference than I could alone.  At first, I thought social media was just a time waster and it certainly can be, but now I see that through social media ONE person can have a significant impact on others and on the world just by passing on the word, the story, the cause, the message…….

So pass it on and make a difference in the things that touch your heart and let me know what you think.

One comment

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