I recently watched a YouTube video by Russell Brand that was a response to a question about obesity. However his reply was not about obesity – it was about society. He maintains that humans are lacking that support that should be provided by living – as humans are designed to – in small social groups of 75-100 people. This expanded familial environment once provided support and companionship to each member that is largely missing in modern societies. I believe there is a lot of truth in what he says, and that the consequences of this lack go largely unrecognized.
I spent so many years in my youth watching people. Yet, interacting with people as an autistic had brought a lot of stress. Office environments often ended my days in tears. My stress level was consistently high. However, now that I am working at home, I admittedly miss those interactions.
Over the past two years my view of the world has changed. My view of myself has changed. I have been so excited and grateful to be surrounded on the Internet over the past year by an ever increasing number of really great people. Warm people, caring people. People who understand love and kindness and compassion. More of those people than I ever once imagined I might be fortunate enough to make personal acquaintance of. And for that I am exceedingly grateful and blessed.
However, I have realized that even with that there is something missing from those days of my youth, when I sat in a corner of the room and watched the people around me. I was largely too afraid to interact, but I so enjoyed those opportunities to observe each of those people, watching their responses to each other, watching their responses to life.
People are such incredible beings. I love watching the expressions on their faces, the crinkle of their cheeks, the smiles, the stars in their eyes. I love hearing their laughter, enjoying their excitement, sharing – even without direct involvement – their joy. There are facets to human interaction that can only be appreciated in person. Over the last year I have just begun to realize how magical hugging can be. I have become conscious that those interactions with people I care for are what I love in this world more than any other experience.
Despite my inherent fear of traveling, I recently made a decision to go to Munich, Germany to watch Fernando Varela appear in Night of the Proms. I am convinced – as are the others around him, that this trip will be pivotal in his career. But more than just wishing to get to share a piece of that history-in-the-making for Fernando, I could not miss having the opportunity to observe all those people responding to his music, responding to Fernando, absorbing his spirit. I expect that to me the stadium full of people electrified by Fernando’s singing will put off an energy that will be palpable. This to me is the best of life’s experiences. Those moments that touch you with a part of another – that allow you to take a piece of someone else away with you, and incorporate that essence of their spirit within yours.
As we move away from a more nurturing and cohesive society, I feel we are losing those moments. But to me, they are treasures, and not to be lost. Those moments of seeing a smile, hearing the laughter, sharing a touch – those are the moments in which we are most human, that affirm and reinforce the humanity in each of us.