Connectedness is about being rooted, without which one is but a leave in the wind. Our rootedness take many forms, creating the sense that we belong, that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we have a place or standing.
In Afrikaans the beautifully descriptive word “geborgenheid” explains our being rooted as more that just being attached, but that we are actually contained by and with that we are attached to. Attachment here is about our being bigger than our singularity, that by being connected we actually transcend our loneliness and singularity, becoming part of the sum of things that we are connected to. Religion, culture, family, our place of origin, our work and friends can all contribute to a sense of connectedness. Without this, a sense of alienation can destroy our inner sense of being. It is through our connectedness that we become, not through our individualism. Jung refers to our process of individuation, which requires that we become through others that we are truly meant to be. One does not become in isolation, but simply withers away. Our connectedness reflects who we are, by being connected to others we become more and more of the best that we could be. Connectedness is not just a one-way attachment, it means that we are fed through our roots in order to be nurtured and flourish. Connectedness is essential for our being in the world, without it we would shrivel up and die.
Connectedness can be symbolized by a wedding ring long after a life partner has died, a piece of furniture that has memories, a photograph, a piece of music, a smell could bring back the connectedness to wonderful memories of a good life lived. Being connected is about being validated through others, objects, memories. Considering how Elders are stripped of their loved ones, pets, homes, photographs, favourite things – connectedness is often totally lost.
We wonder why our Elders fail to thrive and ascribe it to their age…. Maybe we simply need to recreate – through life story work – a sense of connectedness to allow our Elders to flourish.