It’s a small world after all

“But how can you walk away from something and still come back to it?”
“Easy,” said the cat. “Think of somebody walking around the world.
You start out walking away from something and end up coming back to it.”
“Small world,” said Coraline.


Neil Gaiman’s Coraline

“It’s such a small world.” “Isn’t it amazing how small the world is?”

How many times have you said this? How many times have you heard this? And it is an incredibly small world, much smaller than we think.

Yes, technology and social media have dramatically reduced the degrees of separation by more than half. While this is amazingly helpful to make connections, I am not talking about this.

Also not talking about manipulative networking techniques to get to know people to build trust for a transaction—to use others.

I am talking about the real connections that people have that deepen personal relationships. To find new tribes, new kindred spirits. To appreciate our connection to everyone.

I am constantly amused by people’s surprise about the “smallness” of the world. It has always been small and accessible, but our declining awareness, our eroding consciousness keeps us from the extraordinary connectedness we have with others.

Our worldview, our perspectives narrow over time. We think we are focused but we adopt a myopia that sees what we want and need. Our interest in things beyond our scope of work or selfish pursuits are blurred out worlds that would distract us from our mercenary missions.

And we miss the world.

Every once in awhile we have a personal talk, we get out of bounds from our “important” conversations and we “accidently” touch a common thread, a shared special experience, or even a bizarre familial relationship.

This telescopic egocentric approach to the world will intermittently yield some aberrant surprises.

Small world!

As the old saying goes, even the blind squirrel finds some nuts.

Worrying whether there is some commonality or connection is always the wrong approach.

“I have nothing in common with those people.” Is othering of the first order and it is always patently false.

We might wonder how our commonalities will be revealed.
 
This never works if you are only looking for what you want. Where WII FM is your only radio station. (What’s In It For Me)

It is simply amazing what we don’t know. More amazing who you know, but don’t know!

Several eeks ago a lady contacted me through this blog. She was referred by a former colleague I have not spoken to for 25 years. I find out that her stepfather recently interviewed me for a magazine and he is one of my neighbors. The interviewer works for a company where my best friend is an advisor. 

My cousin was contacted by 23 and Me about a possible 3rd or 4th cousin. She connected with this person last week and it ends up they are step-siblings.

Okay, these are just random connections. This is the first floor of the matrix. But you have to be open to learn these things and accept these inquiries.

Last night I was talking with my wife’s best friend, and she was describing a special needs student in her class who had a form of silent epilepsy that is now called absence seizures. This is where someone just blanks out while still awake and upright. So many versions of epilepsy that remain a mystery to the medical world. Her compassion for this student and every student is clearly what makes her an effective teacher. Then she casually mentioned a trauma induced seizure she had in high school. Not epilepsy. I had a seizure in high school. I had epilepsy, she did not. We had this long conversation that led to her brother in law who is a preeminent pediatric epilepsy specialist in the country. This was a conversation that was allowed to find its natural water table. Most important I deepened my connection with my wife’s girlfriend.

I know you have a better story or example. The point is this is not an exception, this is the norm.
There is a matrix of connections,
interconnections and inter-relationships that is always there.

Do we have the patience and open-heartedness to reveal them?

But let me return to my point, the smallness of the world is directly related to our awareness. Part of our consciousness. Consciousness is something that we share. We are connected to all people and living things. Howard Bloom, the great author, scientist and thinker, documented the development of the “global brain” that emerged out of the cellular processes and interactivity of life since the Big Bang. Our development as a species, from the primordial prehistoric soup of life emerged with an interconnectedness and interdependency that extends to all forms of life, that connects all living things today. And one of the things that’s most fascinating about these discussions amongst scientists and philosophers about consciousness, the global brain—this matrix, to which I refer, is the essentiality of altruism. Living things helping each other to survive goes against the Darwinian models. We have an innate desire to connect and to help.

If individual survival is the be-all and end-all of existence, how could one account for altruism?  Howard Bloom, The Global Brain

The bacteria and honeybees and lobsters and lions in the jungle all had to share and connect and to work together. And extends to us upright walkers. To survive wasn’t just the strongest individuals. Survival depended on finding common interests, community building and connectivity that ultimately helped populations flourish.

So there’s this matrix, this matrix of consciousness, this matrix of our global brain that connect us. The truth is we are surrounded by these commonalities, connections and mutual interests.

The world would be even smaller if our brains weren’t shrinking!  Our increasingly smaller minds.  

“Social experience literally shapes critical details of brain physiology, sculpting an infant’s brain to fit the culture into which the child is born. Six-month-olds can hear or make every sound in virtually every human language. But within a mere four months, nearly two-thirds of this capacity has been cut away.’ The slashing of ability is accompanied by ruthless alterations in cerebral tissue. Brain cells remain alive only if they can prove their worth in dealing with the baby’s physical and social surroundings.’ Half the brain cells we are born with rapidly die.” Howard Bloom

Gradually and consistently, we give up on the connections that are possible, the connections of our social surroundings, our areas of interest, of things that you want to do and want to be. As we age, many of these possibilities evaporate from neglect. So do the actual the neurons. Conformity, selfishness, and the expectations of others, things we’ve talked about many times in these pages are the ultimate enemies and villains.

We fight our nature. We lose our connections.
We see the world as disconnected or adverse.

Yet, we are all so deeply connected, so wired to connect and help each other.  

If you’re interested in brain health, crossword puzzles and Sudoku aren’t really the answer. It’s really about the exploration of your connection to people you think you know and certainly people you don’t.

Like the advice from Coraline’s cat, we have to return to a world we thought we knew and the world is small. Our brains shrink with our declining desire to connect and help one another. Our awareness, our consciousness, our altruism are contributors to our well-being.

So it is a small world and it’s getting much smaller. It will be our shrinking brains that will hold us back from surviving and flourishing in this extraordinary tiny world.

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