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Instead of Just Like, Why Not Connect?

encouragement Feb 23, 2021

Please welcome my guest, Barry Limone. Barry wanted to express himself about a common malady of 21st-century living, but he didn't want to do a typical rant, so he used storytelling instead of a standard blog post. Please enjoy.

 

WE LIVE IN A society where there are more ways to connect than ever before: texting, talking on the phone, posting on social media platforms, and chatting within the massive world of multiplayer online role-playing games. You'd think this would deepen our connections with one another, cultivate more kindness, and keep the compliments flowing.

Unfortunately, with the opportunities to connect becoming even more plentiful, we've developed shorter attention spans, more superficial so-called friendships, and compliments that can sometimes feel flat, if they come at all.

As you scroll through your Facebook feed and see a picture of  an old college buddy that you remember enjoying a deep connection with, follow your intuition. Rather than hitting “Like” before moving on, reach out with the same intention your grandparents put into writing letters, and make an effort to connect.

You never know just how meaningful that simple gesture of kindness can be for the person at the other end of the message.

You see, I was the recipient of such kind words, and they were literally the life jacket that saved me as I was riding a wave of despair.

It all started one day as I headed off to my job as an advertising copywriter. Our company had unfortunately been acquired several months beforehand. Although it was not spoken about, I was in a situation not unlike the fellow in Poe's story, The Pit and the Pendulum, with the finality of my termination coming ever closer with each passing day.

I set out on that Thursday morning, January 26, 2017, to be exact, and when I arrived at the office I saw the pink slip on my desk. The executives hadn't even had the courtesy to tell me in person. They hadn't told any of my coworkers either, so at least I wasn't alone. The letter outlined how we'd be getting three months of severance pay and access to COBRA, as well as the option to roll over our 401K into an IRA.

Pathetic, I thought, as I packed up everything that had made this cubicle mine over the past ten years. Once I had finished with that, I didn't bother to finish out my day. There was an unwritten understanding that this was how it would be, so nobody stopped me as I left that building for the last time in my life.

I went to grab an early lunch at one of my favorite Italian restaurants: Via Maestra 42. The mushroom ravioli was to die for, and I knew it would make everything just a tad bit better. As I walked into the small eatery, with its authentic Italian decor and the jolly waiter, Guido, he gave me a worried glance and said, “Buongiorno, Luigi! How are you today?”

“Lousy,” I replied, and told him about having lost my job.

He gave me a look of concern and said, ”I hate to be the one to tell you but I think your wife. . . .”

My wife? Not her too!

I looked over to the table where his eyes fell and saw her. Regina was snogging another fellow. Her boss!

“Let me have that mushroom ravioli to-go,” I muttered.

Guido was gracious enough to give it to me on the house.

As I walked along the pier the salty ocean air felt cool against my skin. Since it was a blustery, wintery day, there weren't too many people milling about. I gazed down into the sea. The waves were quite high and boisterous that day, and the crash of them against the wooden pier was not unlike the roars of fury I wished I could utter.

As I stood there gazing into the sea—a sea filled with secrets, sadness, and seething anger—I wondered whether I should just jump into it and let myself sink down into its depths, never to come out of it again. After all, what was the point? I'd lost my job, my marriage would soon be over, and I'd be forced to move because there was no way I'd ever be able to afford rent on my own in this millionaire's paradise.

As those dark thoughts continued their merciless and unending march through my psyche and mind, I heard the chime of my phone.

It was a notification from Facebook. I figured it would be just another bit of food porn, so I almost didn't look at it. My sister loved showing off whenever she made some confectionery work of art not unlike something seen on Cake Wars. Or maybe it would be some proud parent showing off pictures of their baby making large spit bubbles.

Still, the little voice inside my head urged me to look at that notification. I realized I had a message, and not just one of those silly chain letters promising riches if you sent it off to fifteen other people. This was a message from an old college roommate of mine named Steven.

Hey there, Louis: remember me? I was your roommate in junior year and the life of the party! I'm in town for the weekend. Let's get together. Are you still writing these days? I remember when you used to edit the Daily Nexus. Your columns were so witty and engaging to read. You always put your heart into those pieces, and into everything else you tackled. Hope we can grab some coffee, reminisce about the old times, and make plans to reconnect. Hope to hear from you soon. If you'd rather go old school and use the phone, call me at (805) 555-8XXX.

I was stunned! Not only was Steven reaching out to say hello and reconnect, but he had also given me a life jacket with his genuine compliments. He remembered me, my writing, my passion, and my wit. Even though I couldn't see that about myself in this moment, while I was swimming in a sea of despair, someone else could and that was enough.

With a deep shuddering breath, I turned my back to the sea and began walking back towards my car. Life may have thrown me some curveballs that day, but I felt glad to be alive, recognized, and loved.

We are social creatures and require connection to thrive. Smashing the Like button is not a true connection. So when you next scroll through your feed and see a picture of that killer cake or the beautiful baby blowing bubbles, reach out with a message of warmth and love.

Your heartfelt connection may be just what the other person needed, at that very moment.

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Being a modest man, Barry Limone is still pondering what to share in his bio.

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Image courtesy kropekk_pl on Pixabay