The Best Connections are Found in a Tangled Mess

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“And I wanted to tell her that the pleasure for me wasn’t planning or doing or leaving; the pleasure was in seeing our strings cross and separate and then come back together.”

– John Green, Paper Towns

In the book, Paper Towns, this is how Quentin sums up his night after travelling all over Florida on an adventure with Margo Roth Spiegelman.

For Quentin, the meaningful part of the night was not all the organising or the planning or the breaking and entering.

It was the connection.

The connection he shared with Margo in that moment of time.

The Busy Life

We all get pulled into the pit of the busy life from time to time. We get knee-deep in the details of the day and the preparations of big events. Our calendar entries take over our lives.

Then we build up these events in our minds to the point where we lose sight of the original meaning or goal.

The organising of the event is done and everyone has come together on the agreed date, at the agreed time and in the agreed location.

Then we freeze.

We don’t know what to say. What else is there left to say once all the planning and preparation is done?

What went wrong? Well, the problem is that all of our thoughts and energy went into the planning and organising. We have nothing left to give for the event itself.

Minutes after arriving, we are already taking down the tables and chairs in our mind. We are thinking about cleaning the place up while people are still arriving at the front door.

“Mission accomplished,” we say to ourselves. “Time for everyone to go home now.”

Stop Planning for a Moment

Before you organise anything, stop and think about the original intention that led you to this idea in the first place.

Why did you want to get all these people together in the same room? What is the true purpose behind it all?

If we spent more time thinking about the goal, then maybe the event itself wouldn’t even be necessary.

For example, you might bump into a friend one day and notice that they are a bit down. They don’t seem themselves and you can tell something is not quite right in their life.

So what do you do?

You might suggest, “We should get together sometime and talk. It’s been so long.”

Then you both agree and you go your separate ways.

That agreed meeting may or may not take place. If it does, it probably won’t happen for a few weeks or even months.

Instead, we should stop and think about our intention.

Why did we offer to meet up in the first place?

We offered because there was something visibly wrong with our friend. We might not like to admit it, but anyone could see the look of worry in their eyes. Something was not right in their world.

Sure, we did the right thing and said, “we should meet up”, but does that achieve your goal?

Not if your goal is to help your friend in that very moment.

Let’s be honest. If you ask for help, no one wants to hear, “Sure, I can help! Just give me 4 to 6 weeks and I’ll give you a call.”

I know I wouldn’t want to hear that.

Decide Than Act

Decide what is most important and then act on it.

Instead of putting it off, offer to sit down and talk to your friend right there and then. The trip to the grocery store can wait. You must have 5 or 10 minutes free in your day. And if not, then you need to lighten up your schedule.

We all have important things going on in our lives and we are all short on time, but what is more important than our connection to others?

To answer that question, think about a scenario where you needed help and a friend or family member jumped in right away. You may not remember the exact details of your issue or problem, but I’m sure you remember the feeling of relief when that person offered to help.

I bet you remember that part of the story in vivid detail.

Connection is Everything

We are all held together by any number of random strings between other people and us. They are vital to our existence.

We need to maintain these connections and look after them. Our goal is to increase the number of strings and get to the point where our lives look like one giant jumble of connected strings.

To the observer, our lives should look like a real mess! In a good way.

I remember my Mom use to sit down in her chair at night with her knitting bag. She’d try to pull out a single bundle of yarn and find that it was all tangled up with half a dozen other balls of yarn. All of the colours mixing together, all knotted and tied up.

It would take my Mom 10 minutes just to untangle the mess and find the one bit of yarn she wanted to use.

The goal of life is to transform from that one thread of yarn into that big jumbled mess of tangled bundles; it is not the other way around.