2010 Theme Reflection: Connectionism

(reposted from my personal blog space)

2010 has been about connectionism for me. How that’s occurred has been both similar and different to how I anticipated and crafted it as an idea. I’m pleased by this having come to the end of the year.

Some of my closest of friendships have become closer still – in that way where you just marvel because you just weren’t sure it was possible to feel closer still.

I’ve become close to new people in different ways and I’m enthralled and enamoured by this.

I’ve come to an acute awareness of connection and when it’s present, not present and various nuances around that. I’ve also become quite expert at creating connection that is based inside of freedom and space. A space that holds no obligation or expectation save respect, a space that people can step into or not as they choose, without expectation or obligation. A space where invitations are freely given, and declining means knowing that I won’t take it personally against me, that it is only about that invitation at that time.

Being able to do this well is important to me for several reasons, in part because I value time spent genuinely and freedom makes that possible, and also because like anyone else, I don’t like to feel pressured or obligated or trapped and I work to avoid experiencing it or creating situations that have that in the background.

One of the most important things I’ve learned about connectionism is that <b>we are all an us</b>.  It’s simplicity masks the importance of the message in some ways, but it resonates strongly whenever I say it, resonates in my heart and through my body – as a statement, it lives for me.

One of the other things that connnectionism has been about is teaching others about creating a space where connection is possible for others to step into. Trying to explain and use useful analogies and metaphors has been interesting for this, because it’s largely intangible. I’ve done well and not so well at this but have learned a lot about it. There’s a difference between stepping into a space – like a gathering or conversation (or something) where it all feels welcoming and friendly and positive, and where you’re unsure of your welcome of whether it will be a friendly or positive space. You can be skilled at recognising a space as welcoming and positive and stepping into it and responding accordingly and yet struggle with creating that same space for others.

I will write more about this aspect in a separate post because there’s a lot to consider and tease out about it, particularly given we’re talking intangible intuitive stuff as well.

So when I picked ‘connectionism’ as my word for 2010, I had an idea of what I wanted it to be like based on my dot point definition of the word. My year was all of that and more, and though I had a secret and unspoken desire inside of those guidelines, it wasn’t fulfilled. Overall the year was excruciatingly hard work and demanding. The things that I set out to do or experience or practise involving connection have been rewarding and challenging and I’ve learned so much.


The definition from the first post back in January:

– being connected to people

– promoting things that mean others get to be connected

– learning about what connection means, looks like, feels like etc in as many ways as possible

– connecting with new people

– deepening my connection with current friends

– being and living a life that gives people an idea of what connection is and can look like

– sharing what I know and have learned and experienced about connection with interested parties


Based on what I’ve written above, I’m quite surprised on how strongly that vision and understanding has been fulfilled.

Additionally there was the list of dot points on things that I wanted to do around fostering connectionism, lets revisit them shall we?

– cooking… the year has only passingly been about cooking and I’ve enjoyed what cooking I’ve done and have at various points had the opportunity to impress people with my cooking but not as much learning new skills, and not as much teaching new skills.

– getting to know my friends better has been deeply rewarding and I’m delighted by it frequently. I value it deeply and am still actively creating opportunities for this to happen.

– have met amazing new people this year! This has been successful beyond my wildest hopes.

– did really well throughout the year at Uni, got almost all the marks I really wanted, learned so much and came to see the body of skill and knowledge that is my own understanding and offering to the world  separate from all the bits and pieces I’m learning.

– alas have not loved on Fremantle as much as I would have liked, though there has been some lovely experiences there nonetheless.

– falling in love every day… can honestly say that this is true… as I’ve mentioned in the previous posts it’s something of an ordinary experience for me, part of how I move through the world. However, it’s something I take pains to appreciate and value consciously and not take for granted.

– spending time less well behaved… well…. partly successful? I struggle with this, not unsurprisingly I think. But I have been in situations where I have practised it and the sky hasn’t fallen, I haven’t ended up being hated by everyone I know etc… and so bit by bit I’ve plucked at the strings of conditioning around this, starting to unravel this idea of being ‘good’ that I feel locked into sometimes.

– still interested in learning French but have not done anything on this.

– travelling interstate pretty much didn’t happen – only for Worldcon which was quite low an experience for me though there were specific and amazing highs.

– doing my hippy student travelling thing didn’t happen, but is still on the cards.

– inspire others in themselves… this has happened in a thousand little ways and no matter how small or large… each moment just awes me and I am teary. People are amazing, and those who’ve invited me into see their hurt and jagged bits, the not so pretty and struggling bits… have truly wowed me. They have humbled me even as I know I’ve contributed to them.

So that’s it. My year in connection. Not small or simple or easily explained… but complete and valued beyond measure.