Proximity: Repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other. (as defined by Rebecca G. Adams)
Do you have ample opportunities for proximity in your life, as Rebecca defines it?
Do you want it?
Without proximity, we do not connect. We are isolated. We are alone. Our lives lack intimacy.
I can think of times and places that have given me more (and fewer) opportunities for this kind of proximity. When I had more, I recall feeling happier. More supported. More connected. More fulfilled.
So how do we make this happen in our lives (particularly when part of her definition includes the word "unplanned")?
Lets break it down. The first part of her definition, repeated, unplanned interactions, may not be too difficult to come by. Perhaps you see the same moms at school pickup, or bump into the same "regulars" at Starbucks on your route to work. Regular habits, routines and rhythms of your life increase the chances of regularly bumping into the same people, whose rhythms and routines intersect with ours.
Where it gets more challenging is the second part of her definition: a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other. That doesn't really happen in the Starbucks line. Rebecca is right. It takes a certain setting, and certain circumstances surrounding that setting, for the guard to come down.
So, what conditions encourage that kind of intimacy?
I notice that it often happens when I have a slightly longer time with people, and when we're doing something together, side by side. Not just at the starbucks, but in the car on the drive from work to the starbucks for that coffee break. Not at the gym setting up for step class, but while going for a run together on an early Sunday. Not just at school pickup, but on the days that moms linger to let the kids play in the park and chat while watching the kids.
One of my goals is to be mindful of the opportunities in my life for proximity, and to slow down a bit. Linger just a little longer. Look around. See who's there. You never know who you might find.
What value do you put on proximity? Where does it happen in your life?