Last week, I attended a memorial service for a colleague of mine who passed away about a year ago. We originally worked together as teachers, and later he worked with me as a teacher at a school where I was principal. He was only about 15 years older than me — his passing was such a surprise and very sad. I was looking forward to attending the memorial service and saying a few words about my colleague who had passed, but I didn’t think any of our mutual colleagues would be able to attend.
I was overjoyed when someone I knew walked in the door — another teacher from our school. It was great to catch up on life with her, even just for a little while. I probably hadn’t seen her in 3 or 4 years, and it was so nice to hear what is going on in her life now, both of our children. I loved reminiscing about the school and colleagues we shared 10 years ago and remembering our mutual colleague who passed.
That experience got me thinking about all the people we meet, connect with, and form relationships that differ in strength and longevity. The relationships that remain part of our daily lives and those that blend into the background. How some of those fade away because of hurt, or growing apart, but how some we can pick back up again after time. How each of those people that becomes part of our lives makes some impact on us, and we on them.
I create a connection with each person I know, our relationship forming a subtle, flexible, and durable bond between us. As we form these connections with people throughout our lives, we weave these relationship threads into webs. I have connected myself to hundreds, maybe thousands, of people. And each of those people has their own connections. We are each a point in the web, connected to other individual people through individual threads and to all the other points through the entirety of the web. As we meet new people throughout our lives, we layer these connections and webs on top of one another, gradually weaving and being woven into our selves. Simultaneously, we are points in relationship with one another and a structure of multilayered and overlapping relationships. We are made of the individual thoughts, feelings, and actions of our separate bodies. And we are made of our collective relationships, families, groups, and societies. One can not be separated from the other.
At my colleague’s memorial, I was made up of my recollections of my colleague, my feelings of loss, my decision to attend and speak at the event. I was also made up of my relationships with my colleague who had passed, with my colleague who attended, with colleagues who could not be there but who worked together with us. And although I did not know them, I was also connected in relationship with those others who came together that evening to celebrate our love for our friend.
We are the weavers, we are the woven. We are the connectors, we are the connected. We are the points, the threads, the web. We need not search for a distinction. In a real sense, we are a web woven of each other.
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