The following essay by Maggie McCann Pike appeared in the April 2015 edition of Business Heroine Magazine (businessheroinemagazine.com)
I have a confession. I get why Tom Hanks, playing a castaway, fell in love with his volleyball. After his airplane crashed in the South Pacific, Hanks’ character, Chuck Noland, developed a deep attachment to Wilson, the volleyball he talked to, argued with, and cajoled during the four years of his isolation. When Wilson was swept away into the ocean, Chuck’s overwhelming sadness engulfed me, too. Where at first I had rolled my eyes, by the end of the movie I was drowning in the same dark emptiness that Chuck felt.
Of course. It’s in our nature to love.
I felt the same way the other day when I was driving from the southern suburbs into downtown Denver, to an area that was new for me. I had checked the directions online, visualized where I was going, jotted down my freeway exit, the lefts and the rights, the “if you get to thus-and-so street, you’ve gone too fars” that would get me to my destination. I was all set.
But before I even left my driveway, unease began to fill me. Even if I didn’t need a navigator, I wanted someone with me.
I grabbed Susie.
Susie’s not typical of my usual BFF choices.
She’s my GPS.
Susie’s been on a few excursions with me. On a particularly long drive, a two-day trip from Denver to South Bend, Indiana, I drew comfort from Susie’s lively, mechanical voice gently guiding me across the states. At times, I blush to say, I even let myself indulge in a guilty pleasure: with the push of a button, I changed Susie into Jacques-Pierre, the male French voice option. But mostly it was Susie who kept me company.
For several hours at one point, however, Susie became uncharacteristically quiet. I hadn’t noticed at first, to tell the truth, but as the Iowa sun sank toward the west, dropping its filmy veil over the landscape, an air of sadness crept over me. I tapped the cold box, hoping to get my companion to wake up. Talk to me, Susie. Say something, anything. The words flitted into my mind faster than fireflies on the Iowa farmlands, and it took me by surprise. Where did such an insane notion come from, that Susie and I were really friends?
But is that any different from our first nonhuman love relationships: our blanket, our dolly, our pet? Or our later-in-life ones? The cheery tone of Friends on TV—coveted adult companionship after hearing nothing but children’s voices all day. The musician crooning in the background as we type in solitude. The framed photos in our workspace that add humanity to our mundane tasks.
Take them away, and it leaves a hole.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and when our heart yearns, it begs to be filled with connection. In the moments when relationship doesn’t come in the form of a warm being, how amazing it is that our soul has the capacity to create a bond without reciprocation.
So volleyball, blanket, doll, pet, GPS. Cherish them all. Writes author Ellen J. Barrier: “Sharing the same passionate love with [another] gives a feeling of being alive! The experience of something real is unforgettable.”
And so it is: We’re born to love.
copyright 2015 Maggie McCann Pike
Maggie McCann Pike
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