“It is part of scientist Matthew Lieberman’s case that our need to connect is as fundamental as our need for food and water.” Lieberman who is a Professor and SCN (Social Cognitive Neuroscience) Lab Director at UCLA Department of Psychology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences conducts research on social cognitive neuroscience which focuses on how the human brain carries out social information processing. His research has led him to a connection between physical pain and social pain. Next time someone tells you their heart is broken or their feelings are hurt, stop and think about that for a minute.
I personally believe we are wired to connect and crave that social acceptance on some level. However, as I’ve told my children with every relocation, you only need one good friend to make it feel like home. Some believe they need to be surrounded by people to feel accepted, invited to all the parties, hit a certain number of likes, followers, or “friends” on social media. When I think of that feeling of coming home, the kind that illicits a deep, satisfied sigh as the corners of your mouth inevitably form a smile, I think of the people I have truly connected with through the years. I have been lucky enough to meet people from all walks of life in my many moves, and am a better person for it. And yet, during each of those periods in my life there were only a couple whom I felt in my very soul I had been destined to cross paths with, meant to connect with if only for a short time.
In those instances, I always recall an old folklore: Walking home one night, a young boy sees an old man standing beneath the moonlight. The man explains to the boy that he is attached to his destined wife by a red thread. He shows the boy the young girl who is destined to be his wife. Being young and having no interest in having a wife, the young boy picks up a rock and throws it at the girl, running away. Many years later, when the boy has grown into a young man, his parents arrange a wedding for him. On the night of his wedding, his wife waits for him in their bedroom, with the traditional veil covering her face. Raising it, the man is delighted to find that his wife is one of the great beauties of his village. However, she wears an adornment on her eyebrow. He asks her why she wears it and she responds that when she was a young girl, a boy threw a rock at her that struck her, leaving a scar on her eyebrow. She self-consciously wears the adornment to cover it up.
According to this East Asian belief, the gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. There are different variations including that those connected to this string which can stretch but never break are destined to be lovers, even married at some point. From what I’ve experienced, soul mates come in all forms.
My red string has stretched and pulled and at times felt like it would physically snap in two, but someone on the other end always seems to take a step closer loosening the tension and bringing us even closer together once more. I like to believe there isn’t just one person on the other end of that string as that responsibility shouldn’t fall on one single person. When I picture who is connected to my red string of fate, I can see all those who love me unconditionally whether the string is extended farther than humanly possible or so close I can see its fraying edges. Those I’ve truly connected with will always be on the other end of a string that leads right to my heart. And, if you see me on the other end of your string and ever need me to take a step closer, just give that string a little tug. I’m here.
Whom do you see on the other end of your red string of fate?
This post was part of this month’s #1000speak focusing on the theme of connection.