Apr 3, 2017

Connection is Our Reality

“My Dear Brothers, We Are Already One. But We Imagine That We Are Not.”

-Thomas Merton

The Forest & The Trees

If you were to take a hike just southwest of Fish Lake in Utah, you would find yourself in a beautiful 100 acre grove of Quaking Aspen trees. As you meander through the estimated 40,000 smooth white trunks, you would be walking right on top of one of the strangest secrets of nature: those trunks aren’t trunks.

They’re stems.

That’s because the entire grove is a single ancient organism named Pando, which is Latin for “I Spread.” While the “trunks” you observe may only be a hundred or so years old, they’re all connected by the massive root system of one genetically identical male.

So there is a strong appearance of separateness in Pando, but under the surface, connection is reality.

We Need Roots

Just like Pando, humans look separate, yet are connected. When we are strongly connected with others, we have a strong root network. But when we become isolated, our root network becomes weak, and we experience a survival instinct called loneliness. It tells us we need connection in the same way that hunger tells us we need food.

What do we do when we feel this hunger?

Where do we go?

Too often, in a rush to feel relief, we turn to the thin interactions we find online, or to “plug and play” social environments that don’t require us to go deep. But this kind of interaction doesn’t involve our roots. While it may make us feel a bit less lonely in the moment, it won’t make us healthy. And that’s exactly what we find: according to studies conducted in American and the UK, we are living with widespread and chronic loneliness.

Life Under the Surface

Connection isn’t just something we aspire to, it’s our reality. That realization gives us at least two things: a realization that building our roots with others is essentially human, and the courage to go deep with those around us.

We need more than just likes and status updates.

What we need is true proximity, true exchange, true sharing.

We need to let our roots tangle with those around us.

Practice

Next time you feel the impulse of loneliness, be aware of the fact that you need “good food,” not just a quick snack. Try to make time every day to create real connection with those around you.

Inspired Product

Our value of connection inspired one of the products we make, the Unity candle. It’s a simple tool to help you remember to build your roots on a daily basis.