Life is full of those things that we don’t become mindful of—until we do.

Until recently, I had never tried to define or explain ‘connection’. To be honest, I don’t know if I can put my inner feelings about connection into words but I want to try.

It seems we learn human connection as babies and children. First from mom, then dad, then from your family or close friends. Everything you learn as a baby and a child molds your perception, or shall I say shapes the walls to contain your understanding of connection.

If your mom and dad are not deeply connected with each other or with you, then your understanding of connection will be shallow until something or someone comes along to show you more depth.

If you are lucky enough to have a childhood best friend that you get really close to, then you are able to expand your understanding of connection through every secret, through every tear, every fight, every laugh and every hug shared with that person.

As you age you experience continued relations with your parents, with your friends, in courtships and with lovers, further defining what connection is to you. Without ever having to put words to it, connection is defined, understood, and shaped by each and every relationship you’ve been a part of.

Once you’ve reached adulthood, your definition of connection can become a foundational support for your physical and mental well-being as a healthy human. When you find yourself able to connect with people easily without having to put up rules or boundaries about how that connection is flowing, then you will be able to find the beauty and value in meaningful connections with strangers passing by in an instant.

You may also reach adulthood with a very different idea around connection. Connection may be so sacred to you that it can only be experienced with certain people, in certain ways, through your certain walls that only allow the amount of connection to flow through that you deem necessary.

The flow of connection seems to be fluid, like rushing water, unable to truly be contained, therefore any flow restriction you experience, is a result of the barriers you’ve created inside yourself to cut you off from the flow.

The older I get the more connection seems to become all-encompassing. The most obvious connections are between myself and other humans, but then there is so so much more. Connection to pets, to the moon, to the meat I eat, from the ground to my feet. Connection is everywhere and we are surrounded with opportunities to go deeper and get weirder.

What I really want to write are my thoughts on adult human connection. I was tying to define connection for myself and the words “continuous curiosity with reciprocating compassion” keep circling back around. 

Continuous curiosity because to be connected, we must remain interested in their inner world, intrigued by the little gems you learn about them from time to time, and attentive when they share their truth with you. 

Reciprocating compassion because we must keep a genuine, mutual understanding, or a desire to come to understand one another whether or not we agree. Being aware of how each person has arrived where they are, gives a lot of insight as to why they think, speak, or act as they do.

When you lose that continuous curiosity, you lose interest, you lose gratitude for the little things you’ve learned from this person. There is nothing wrong or bad about this, it is simply a loss of connection. 

When you no longer share reciprocating compassion for each other, you lose understanding by always questioning, judging, or frustratingly disagreeing with their thoughts, words, and actions. If you no longer care to remember how they arrived here, then you will lack empathy and therefore lack connection altogether.

For a connection to truly flourish, continuous curiosity and reciprocating compassion flow both ways. When one person shuts down, the entire flow shuts down in both directions. Unless both the giving and receiving channels are open for both humans, the connection won’t be able to flow.

It’s a beautiful thing to connect with others, to experience that love, and to learn from them. It’s an honest human thing to lose a sense of connection with someone and to have to move on without that connection.

I believe connection is a sacred art within human nature. It’s not necessary to survive, but it is necessary to thrive.