Only connect!

Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, And human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect…

–E.M. Forster, Howards End

“Only connect” was going to be the theme of our Holiday Card this year, the one we never got around to doing.  My wife, Andy, suggested it—saying how much “only connect” seemed to capture the essence of this time.  The card (she’s the photographer) was going to be something about our kids surrounded by the cacophony of telephony—laptops, iPods, etc.  The only problem was that our teen boys were just fed up with having pictures of them plastered on our Holiday cards.

Still, the phrase kept lingering in my mind:  “Only connect.”

Does it mean, “do nothing but connect?”  Perhaps, “don’t bother if you don’t connect?”  Or maybe, “if only we can connect, things will somehow be okay?”

The Forster quote, “connect the prose and the passion,” seems to still be a call to all of us who write to be sure to put our hearts into what we express; but further it seems to say that we must connect our passion with our texts and our touch, our breathing and our toiling… our dark questioning and our productive suffering.  It also says to me, anyway, that we must connect with each other in order to live in our love—to live in our happiness in the eternally present moment.  The older I get, the more this makes sense to me, and the harder it seems to convey to a world that puts “being here now” on the to-do list, but not quite at the top of that list.

It’s not “only publish,” or “only earn” or “only get more stuff.”  In parenting particularly, I like to say that “relationship is everything” and I suppose that this is  just another way of saying, “only connect.”  We don’t really need more pithy ways to say age-old wisdom, we need to love each other until we discover, via enlightened self-interest, that “only connect” is our clarion call to freedom.

If you can trust the spirit in the words, then perhaps these very words might convey more than the sum of their pixels and the love with which I wish to infuse them may illuminate your fingertips and eyes with the quiet knowledge that we already all do only connect—the big thing yet to change is our awareness of this.

Interesting that Howards End was first published in 1910 and a hundred years ago it seemed important, at least to Forster, not to live in fragments.  After a hundred solitudinous years of de-Forester-ization the advice toward love, authenticity and cohesion appears as crisply elegant and elegantly inviting as the linens in a Merchant Ivory film as our world careens ever toward more fragmentation… and yet it is also seems to subtly coalesce toward some only connected collective.

So, let’s dedicate today to living in the consciousness of “only connect”—yoking passion to action and non-action alike—in the service of all our collective children with whom we aught only to connect.

Namaste, Bruce

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One Response to “Only connect!”

  1. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite books. Thank you for making this particular connection today.

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