Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Katie Tallo of Momentum Gathering.
Between all of the cells in our bodies is this amazing stuff called connective tissue. It surrounds our organs, supports our bodies and helps us function in highly special ways. It channels vital nutrients to our core. It gives us strength and form. It’s our glue.
What does your connective tissue look like?
Likely its pretty yucky if you’re talking about your flesh and blood connective tissue, but I’m referring to the other kind of connective tissue.
The aspects of your life that support you, help you function in highly specialized ways, nourish your core and give you strength -- that's your connective tissue -- the intangible ways in which you feel connected -- the fibres that bind your being to those you share the planet with.
For me it consists of dinner around our small kitchen table with my family, a heartfelt exchange in the comments on my blog, a walk in the park, a great line in a favourite book, a fit of laughter shared over Skype that defies distance between friends, a cheer of support from my husband, a cup of tea by my mother's fireplace, a simple good morning from a stranger passing by on the sidewalk. My connective tissue lies in nature, family, friends, my neighbourhood and on the web.
As different as our flesh and blood is from each other, so too are the ways we connect. From a tweet to a hug, from a loyal dog to a million Facebook friends, each of us has reams of connective tissue weaving through our lives. Without some form of it, we’d likely have a tough time functioning.
When Pulitzer Prize Winning Film Critic, Roger Ebert lost the ability to speak after cancer surgery, he turned to the internet to create a new kind of connective tissue. For an extrovert no longer able to hold his own in social situations, the internet became his bridge to a new world of social connectedness and a new voice. He found his connective tissue through blogging and twitter.
When talking about social networking, Seth Godin believes it is always important when it’s real, and it’s always a useless distraction when it’s fake. Hits to your website and keeping score of your friends doesn’t mean a thing. “Are there people out there I’d go out of my way for, and would they go out of their way for me?” This is the privilege of real connection, according to Godin.
So if you’re not quite sure what your own connective tissue really looks like -- whether it's real or useless -- whether it strengthens you or holds you back, then lay it out before you and examine it. Sift through the fibres for meaning, usefulness, bridges, love, respect, creative energy, expansiveness, closeness, hope, inspiration, empathy, service, comfort, difference and common ground. Discard the toxins, the fat and the waste. Keep the rest. Keep the stuff that gives you a voice and allows you to go out of your way for others. Keep the stuff that matters most to you. It’s the stuff of life.
Katie is a writer whose connective tissue includes her online creations, Momentum Gathering and The Habit Course where she collaborates with some pretty great people, Barrie Davenport of Live Bold and Bloom and Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.