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"No man is an island..."
"...every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main..."
While Donne's meditation has been somewhat trivialized by the parlor game, "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon", the more people we meet, and the more experiences we have, the more connections to others we develop, and the more we become part of the "continent" of human life. Each group of people we encounter, and allow to enter our lives, gives us a different perspective from which to view the other groups and connections and degrees of connection of which we are part. We are woven further and more deeply into the network of human existence, and it, into us.
"...each man's joy is joy to me; each man's grief is my own..."
A traditional song based on the same theme focuses on the qualities of empathy and sympathy, friendship, and faith. Donne stated it starkly: "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind."
When we move from individuals and organizations to techniques, methods, and procedures, personal interconnectedness becomes "leveraged information", "technology reuse", and "transfer of training". This ability to apply the tools learned in one discipline to another explains how marketing people can write ads for cars one day, and for baby formula the next, and it explains how professional spokespersons such as Billy Mays and "Vince from Sham-Wow" can hawk products as different as Mighty Putty, Slap-Chop, and OxiClean. It also explains how we can use the social tools we learned in school, in church or synagogue, at work, and in fraternal societies to reach out within and beyond our communities to connect with, and to help, others.
In the space of twenty-four hours, The Other Half and I -- without advance intent or plan -- connected through a server at our local TGI Friday's to bring community to those close to her who have been touched by diabetes, connected with a sales associate at Brookstone in furthering the cause of medical marijuana, and passed on information about Pre-Paid Legal services. At Friday's, the segue was the both of us testing Lower Than Pre-Meal Comfort Levels and asking the server to hasten our service. At Brookstone, the associate noticed my "Marijuana is Medicine" silicone bracelet and asked how he could get one. (I've also had people ask about my Diabetic Rockstar silicone bracelet or hat, or one of my diabetes-themed T-shirts.) In both cases, details from our personal lives posed opportunities for outreach, bringing others into our social and/or activist circles, connecting them (and/or people they know) with opportunities to meet personal needs or explore their individual interests.
From late April's weekend at Trenton Computer Festival, to last week's STAR TREK movie opening marathon, to this weekend's one-on-ones, The Other Half and I have been able to reach out to four distinct interest groups -- some through direct intent, some through the details of our personal appearance, and all through our readiness to apply what we've learned through years of public presentations and private connection-making to the opportunities that presented themselves. And through connection-making, we feel others' joy as they find they are not alone, that there are others who will help them through rough spots, and there are others who will fight for the same things they are fighting for.
Michelle Kowalski, a writer, editor and photography hobbiest living in Phoenix, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in February 2005. In January 2008, as part of her quest to start on an insulin pump, Michelle learned that she actually has type 1 diabetes. (Read More)
Nicole Purcell lists having type 1 diabetes last when she's asked to provide information about herself - because that's where it belongs. (Read More)