Are You So Plugged in You’re Out of Touch?

In the middle of the night recently – after a particularly challenging week – William Wordsworth’s poem, “The World is Too Much With Us,” popped into my head. You remember: “The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!… For this, for everything, we are out of tune…”

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Wordsworth wrote that poem over 200 years ago; one can only imagine what he’d think now – if he were living in our hyper-connected, “instant, urgent response needed,” spat-out-thoughts-in-140-characters, world. We are never out of touch. Or, perhaps, we are never truly in touch… “Out of tune” pretty much sums it up.

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We recently went to the funeral of a very dear friend. It was sad beyond belief… but extraordinarily moving and extremely beautiful. This wonderful, great-hearted man died suddenly. There was no time for goodbye’s, for the wrapping around of arms, for the touching of hearts. But between her tears, one of his daughters said this: “Here’s what I know: My father knew how much I loved him. I told him – in words and notes… all the time… how proud of him I was, how glad I was to be his daughter… I know he knew.” I’m sure she’s right. He knew.

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For a beautiful moment everyone in the church was “in touch.” We were all of different ages – from under six to over eighty – of different backgrounds, with different hopes and dreams, with different sources of anxiety. But we were united by a common commitment: to actually look at each other, to actually say the words that describe our feelings, our delight, our pride… our love. To pay attention. But will it last? Will the “world” with all its relentless requests for instant responses, its blaring of even the most inconsequential or appalling events as “need to know” news, and the ADD that inevitably comes from living a “sound-bitten life,” get the better of our resolve – and cause us to break our promises? I hope not.

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Here’s what I think: If I can remember now, I can remember next week. And the week after. If I take myself out of the maelstrom for even a few minutes every day and decide to be there for someone else (and for myself), to say the full words of my feelings (not the abbreviations), wrap my arms around the moment – and the person –  and meet them at the “heart level” –  I can keep my promise.

So… I’ll be in touch.

This post originally appeared on Gail’s Monday Morning Motivator blog.  To read more, click here


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