Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Ties That Bind (or, Of Gods and Men).

"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break." -Chinese proverb

After my last post, I thought to myself: "Self! You should write about something happy and carefree! Maybe post some photos of kittens, or puppies...babies, perhaps. Things that make you happy!" Then this week was suddenly upon me, with nary a furry creature or cherubic bundle in sight (except for the rather mischievous beady-eyed squirrel that gleefully munches on tomatoes from my backyard plant.)

Instead, I was faced with a sudden proliferation of ghosts, real (the kind that made me flee Facebook suddenly and without much regret) and imagined (the inner demons of a tortured soul, made weaker by nerve-shredding preteen girls.) The happy post will then have to wait, in favor of the pensive. (Admission: Babies don't make me particularly happy, unless they belong to other people and I can give them back quickly once they start fussing. I am actually quite frightened of them.)

I have been thinking a lot about the ways we are all interconnected, through communities and language and common interests and a thousand other things. What is it that brings us together, binds us close to some people and not others? It's funny, isn't it. Even though every person is unique, how many people around the planet overlap that uniqueness? If I said, "Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?" how many of you would scratch your heads, and how many of you would light up and laugh, because a specific memory was stirred up? (And if there is nary a one of you that knows that of which I speak, well then, run away! Run away!)

The metaphor of strings is powerful. The ancient Greeks were particularly fond of stories involving thread: Penelope waiting for Odysseus, weaving her endless tapestry; Ariadne gifting Theseus with a ball of string to help him find his way out of the Minotaur's labyrinth; Arachne getting into an ill-advised weaving competition with Athena. We can be high-strung, or strung along (or, strung out.) I came across the above proverb here at StoryCorps, in a story about adoption. StoryCorps, if you are unfamiliar with it, is an oral history project, and anyone can participate. It's unbelievably interesting to listen to stories about people's lives: their troubles, accomplishments, hopes. Something about it makes you feel a little less adrift in the world.

I love things that make me feel connected to a greater whole. There is another site, The Speech Accent Archive, that is absolutely fascinating. People from all over the world, with different native tongues, read the same fairly nonsensical English passage. Each language has several examples, with male and female speakers from different regions repeating the same handful of words. It's wonderful to compare a native Kirghiz (from Kyrgyzstan! Who knew?) speaker to myself, or to a native Bosnian or Icelandic speaker. I love it when the big, wide world feels just a bit more cozy.

What do you think about connection? Not just romantic - all kinds. Why do we meet who we meet? And when that connection is strong, does it really last forever, even when it may seem to be broken apart? Where does all that energy go?


  1. I feel to close to you to comment on most of this without some amount of uncomfortable exposure. Suffice it to say, this is my favorite post of yours, yet. (I think I've said that, before, but we're allowed to update as events warrant, no?)


    '(Admission: Babies don't make me particularly happy, unless they belong to other people and I can give them back quickly once they start fussing. I am actually quite frightened of them.)'

    made me laugh out loud. I'll admit right along with you that I far prefer every other stage of my daughter's development, so far, to infancy. What a racket.

    Off to check out the songs you've linked.

  2. Have just listened to the Magnetic Fields song for the third time in a row.

  3. First of all, I love new music (to me). And the Blue October song I am loving.

    Secondly, I thought this was a great post. I often think about the connections between friends and strangers--the instances in time where another person may change your direction or mindset ever so subtly. It does make me think we are all part of some great tapestry, woven together to create something bigger, all of our energies as one.

  4. Suze: Thanks. A bit atmospheric and moody, right?

    Julie: I agree with you, and love the idea of "all of our energies as one". There is so much pain and anguish in this world, but I'd like to think that in the end we can transcend that and help others transcend as well...

  5. Very thought-provoking post, Maggie. I'll check out that website with the various speakers from around the world.

  6. Connections never stay the same, the either get stronger or weaker. I now feel a stronger connection with my human cousins than I did when I was a young gorilla.

  7. Whoa - v. deep. Not used to thinking so cosmically about connections and stuff.

  8. Shawn: Thanks! Hope you liked the link.

    Gorilla B: Yes. But do you think they ever END? Or are we still connected, as long as it is in our memory?

    Movies: Maybe you need to make a little sitting room in that mind for "things other than cinema". :)

  9. What a fascinating post. Isn't it wonderful, though, the way we ARE connected? Reminds me of driving by a field dotted with bales of hay. I couldn't help but think of spools of thread, waiting for the gods to use them as they sewed us together.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  10. Bryce: I love that imagery! I was thinking about this last night, and remembered that (not very good) Angelina Jolie movie "Wanted". Isn't that the one with The Loom of Fate?

    I think we are all searching for meaning, in one way or another. It's harder to accept life as a random series of events.

  11. Exceptional post! I am sure everyone can relate to this...perhaps it is that common "adam n eve" gene present in all of us that "is the tie that binds"

  12. Hi, dear Maggie

    Whereof you speak, I know not.

    OK, back to earth: my current miserypost notwithstanding, I really don't have any of these connections you speak of. At least, I am not aware of them. I really do feel like the most unconnected person in the world. I have a few members of family, with a string between us which is almost invisible and certainly not tangible - , friends ditto. I have a dog, whom I love and who loves me, but no coconuts.

    Oh sorry, your post really wasn't suitable to get me out of the hole.

  13. ML: Thank you! I wonder about our common gene...that is an interesting thought that requires more...well, thinking!

    Friko: Of course you have connections! I have just seen the outpouring on your last post. I will work on another post that may help (you and me both, to be frank.)

    (The coconuts bit was from Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail. Excellent film!)

  14. While coconuts migrating doesn't bring up any memories for me, it certainly did make me laugh (oh, and now I see it's from Monty Python--perhaps I had a buried memory of that)! I love your meditation on string, and particularly the connection with mythology--I suppose this is in part because your string meditation actually connects with my current post. String is a strong part of Sarah Ruhl's play, Eurydice (a retelling of the O&E myth): Orpheus carries it in his pocket to repair any lost instruments he may come upon as he walks, and Eurydice's father builds her a room of string when they meet in the underworld. So, here is an example, quite appealing to me, at least, of a bit of the web of connection you've woven with your post.

  15. I loved your current post - and how odd that the composer (right?) is Twining. More strings.

    O&E is one of my favorites, because of the heart-rending loss.

    "So, here is an example, quite appealing to me, at least, of a bit of the web of connection you've woven with your post."

    It was a happy accident!

  16. Ahhh yes, babies and afraid ;) I like your blog.

  17. Elizabeth: Thank you! The fear of clowns is a common one, isn't it? There must be a study about the reasons!

  18. All I want to know is - what is your favorite color?
    Guess we are all a bit connected...

  19. Alex: It's actually red. I hope this does not make you dislike me in any way. :)