Remember the Beatles’ song lyric: “I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends”?
Well, yesterday again I was blanked for a post. (I must be in some kind of slough, because this is the second consecutive time, after almost a year of free-flowing ideas.) What’s more, I didn’t even feel the energy needed to search or re-search anything.
Then an e-mail message came in from a blogger I follow regularly. I read her blog, as she reads mine, and we often exchange comments on the contents. But we don’t usually send personal e-mails — we’re blogging friends, which has its own parameters.
This time though, Stef (of the delightful Smile, Kiddo) had a personal message for me: She’d received a magazine in the mail and was making her way through it when she came upon an article that made her think of me, and so she was passing it along. The article was from Tricycle magazine, a publication I was familiar with back in my more actively Buddhist days, and included this quote from features editor Andrew Cooper:
Although E. M. Forster could hardly have intended that the epigraph to his novel Howards End—‘Only connect’—serve as a two-word distillation of the Buddha’s teachings, it certainly is a good, and timely, one. To connect across the differences that divide us; to connect by building bonds of affection, understanding, and support; to connect in the recognition that we and all things are inextricably, well, connected— in our age of accelerated travel and instant communication, doesn’t this simple phrase offer us a promising touchstone for Buddhist practice? Is not connection with others one of the surest ways to loosen the bonds of self-concern and to find one’s best way to act in the world? It is, as well, a wonderfully economical description of the basis, the means, and the fruit of the Buddha Way. Our differences do indeed matter, but they don’t matter as much as this: Only connect, and, in Forster’s words, ‘Live in fragments no longer.’
Look at all the fragments coming together in that one e-mail: my running dry for a post, my abiding interest in Buddhism, E.M. Forster and his epigram for Howard’s End, “Only connect” (which also serves as my inspiration and slogan for this blog), and most important of all — Stef’s care and concern for me, that is, her connection with me.
Here’s the post then, to testify to serendipity, and here’s to friends, blogging and otherwise! What would we be without them?
Judith, I’m so glad I could help out! Yup, there’s no “chance” in coincidence; and absolutely, we all get by with help from our friends – both online and in “real” life. I’m grateful for all of my friends – and am delighted to have been able to expand my circles through this amazing online space. I’m so pleased we all get to connect. 🙂
Reminds you of Donne’s more sombre poem – (I usually only can remember the 1st 2 and last 2 lines – but courtesy of the ‘internet’ I was able to re-read the whole in all its beauty:
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. “
Donne’s poem is magnificent, a towering piece I’ve loved for decades. Thanks for bringing it to the front again —
A powerful statement about connections — whether we choose them or not, like them or not — they exist!
I’m embarrassed to say I have never read (nor heard) this poem in its’ entirety; and upon reading it just now, I found it amazingly beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing the complete text; I genuinely appreciate it.
Glad you enjoyed it – small return for the bounties on your meditation blog – for I must admit Stef, I’ve sampled some of the neat posts you have there too, (and feel so tempted to take one of those 10-day retreats…)
This whole life is serendipitous. “Only connect” is based on awareness. Looks like you’re dwelling in the kingdom of Serendip now, J 😉
A grand place to live —
Only, like Brigadoon, I’m afraid that not only does it appear, but it also disappears —
I like living here.
Agreed! This whole ‘online experience’ has meant so much to me on so many levels!
Those who haven’t experienced it (many of my friends proudly claim to be “Luddites” and won’t have anything to do with blogs, even email or the Internet) have no clue about what it can mean —
Yes, I have had people around me before, that likewise ‘proudly claimed not to want anything to do with it’.
Honestly, I don’t know what’s there to be proud about … ‘to try and fight progress?!’
My own brother was one of them for quite some time.
Well, for better, for worse — we’re two striding forward into the future — 😉
There will always be those who resist, and those who embrace; and I hope I always remain in the latter camp. I lived in the former space for too long already in my relatively brief life…
I hear you loud and clear, Stef.
I’ve always been initially a nay-sayer — not that I remain there, but it’s my first impulse, and I have to work my way forward from there to YES. Sometimes it’s a long tough slog.
So I’m very struck by not only what you say, but the neat way in which you say it: “There will always be those who resist, and those who embrace” — I can remember that, and maybe choose to embrace quicker.