He sat across from his wife, scrolling through a social media site on his phone. She stared past him, eyes empty. There may have been a child next to them in the booth at Mooyah. I don’t remember. The sight of the disconnected couple was too oddly riveting.
In the next booth over, a father leaned back with his arm around one of his daughters, and he smiled as he listened to her and his three other daughters’ chatting. For their part, the girls seemed happy to be with one another and their dad. The scene was one of gentle contentment, over a simple meal.
My daughters and I had chosen to sit on the same side of a booth-n-chairs setup (we all wanted the booth seat and decided, why not?, so we scooted together in one line on one side of the table, as if at a Mooyah gallery), and we compared veggie burgers, while an old man at the table next to us finished up a phone call then proceeded to peacefully read his paper and wait for his supper to arrive.
Who knew that Mooyah was such a fishbowl opportunity to think about human connection—or, disconnection, as the case may be.
I’m no expert on connecting, no star at creating lasting and satisfying friendships. But I have an interest in human relationship, both theoretically and practically. Like anyone else, I’ve had my puzzlements and dreams when it comes to friends. I’ve worked hard to understand myself better, discovering, for instance, that I’m more introvert than extrovert (gosh, that was a big discovery, and a critical one). I’ve learned strange things like the value of choosing to connect with people who’d rather challenge me (in a fun, confident, respectful manner) than tiptoe away, which can unfortunately set up a friendship for eventual disaster. I’ve also tried to learn the art of timing and the art of co-building and the art of listening both “to” and “beyond” the words. I’ve been inspired by great literary friendships, historical friendships, business friendships. Excellent human relationship, after all, can make the world go round (or, in its abuse or absence, destroy).
What’s been your experience with friendship? Does it puzzle you? Comfort you? Spur you to personal growth? Maybe you’re in a season of losing old friends, trying to find new ones, transitioning inside established ones, or even learning to befriend yourself. Where do you turn when you can’t understand why the person across from you would rather scroll on his phone than enjoy your company? Or, when you want to scroll on your phone, because the person across from you seems bored by your every move? How can an evening at Mooyah, alone with your paper, be something to look forward to rather than fear? Do you have strategies for making your way? Do you have models and modes?
I know, a lot of questions. (If you are going to choose to be friends with me, you might need to be up for the curiosity quotient as part of the deal.)
At Tweetspeak, where we’ve put people first from the beginning, we want to help answer a few friendship questions. We want to ask new ones. We want to learn—from and with you. And be inspired! So we’re piloting a “friendship project,” which we’ll eventually need at least 100 patrons to sustain. But we wanted to begin, and see where it might take us (and you). If enough people like it enough, find it useful and satisfying, we’ll continue. For now, we’re simply going to pilot. Here are the details we’ve figured so far (and these may modify as we discover what works best for you and for us)…
Why the Friendship Project
• Tweetspeak is a friendly, curious, growth-oriented place
• Tweetspeak believes that thoughtful, fulfilling friendships between individuals who are happy within themselves are one basis of a kind and generous society
• Tweetspeak believes that literature, poetry, and writing are some of the deepest ways we can connect as friends and be inspired regarding human relationship
• Unlike many other sites on the Internet, Tweetspeak warmly manages its community and tries to offer programming that helps people love themselves and each other, thus giving them (and each other) space and nurturance to “become who they really are”
What Is the Friendship Project?
The project is designed to explore a wide range of topics regarding making friends, maintaining friendships, being inspired by friendship, transitioning friendships, growing through friendship, even how to write about friendship (if you are a writer). Potential monthly themes we might try out during the pilot (yes, we need to make some choices!):
– Writer Friends (we’re doing this as the first in the pilot)
– Laugh Track
– Fathers and Sons
– Cross-Generational Friendships
– Difficult Conversations
– Literary Friends (think Tolkien and Lewis, Frost and Thomas)
– Great Friendship Tales
– Conflict Resolution Secrets
– Great Minds on Friendship (including a possible foray into Aristotle’s thoughts on the many faces of friendship!)
– Travel Friends
– Friends on the Net
– Introvert Paradise
– Extrovert Heaven
– The Power of Play
– Befriending Yourself
To help you explore, learn, and get inspired, we’re aiming to provide:
• one article per month
• occasional action or writing prompts
As always, Tweetspeak is about making an impact for people, day by day, and into their futures. We invite you to come along. Discoveries are waiting to be made. And, maybe, a few trips to Mooyah.
Photo by Nathalie, Creative Commons, via Flickr.