By Paula Hamilton



Elian, Friends, Lovers and The Next Door Neighbor This monthís issue of Awareness is devoted to relationships.  The tortuously thin, weblike threads that attach each one of us to the other.  Friends, neighbors and a boy named Elian. 

In this high-tech, low-touch world where everyone walks, drives and jogs, talking into a slim black phone.  Where beeps, buzzes and melodies summon us to calls and messages far more important than the ones we are holding with real live, in the flesh, people. Lives centered around cooked microwaved dinners, internet shopping and hallway meetings that coordinate and corroborate our schedules. 

It seems like every once in a while we need to come up for air, and collectively gravitate toward a cause.  Rally to the defense of a helpless boy or whale.  A small sign of our persistent need to connect and be real, to and for someone other than ourselves. 

Now, Iím not saying Elian and his very real, and very sad plight is not deserving of attention or concern.  Iím just saying why Elian?  The country, nay, the very state you now reside in (take your pick) is full of real live Elianís. All hurting, all confused and all  deserving of attention and concern. These Elianís donít have to be Cuban. They donít even have to be illegal aliens. They donít even have to be boys. They can be grandmothers or girls, or men, or women. They can be old or young. They can be your neighbor. They can be your brother. 

It seems the more difficulty we have maintaining the relationships we are supposed to be able to main-tain without too much difficulty at all, like parent/child, husband/wife, friend, co-worker or lover; the more we rally toward the cause of a stranger. Taking on their pain and anguish as though it were our own. 

Maybe it is easier to become concerned, valiant, almost vigilante-like towards a virtual stranger. Maybe if we spent too much time with Elian, we would see he is too much like other 6-year-old boys we have known. Careless, sloppy, maybe even a little rude. Maybe we would weary of his whines or demands after days and weeks on end. Maybe the need to feed, clothe and get him off to school daily would start to become too much like real life. Our life. Maybe he would become too real.  Too much like our friend, parent, neighbor. Then maybe we could go back to ignoring him.  Not out of any lack of concern. But because we are so busy, busy, busy. 

Elianís cause can be taken up part-time; it can be squeezed in during our spare time. Unlike the tiny, constant demands of real live people (as opposed to media people). ďEliansĒ come and ďEliansĒ go, but one thing that stays constant is our need to connect, to love and be loved. And the other thing that stays constant is our struggle to counteract our natural selfishness and self absorption. 

The tethers of our relationships are tenuous at best. Balances that are easily upset, easily discarded and replaced by far less demanding ones. Elian seems like a bargain. We can shower our care and concern because we know it wonít last. It is temporary, and thus easy to manage, easy to schedule into our collective Day- timers and Palm Pilots. Canned ďCare On The GoĒ, perfect for todayís busy lives. Take one dose daily, or as needed prn. 

Think about it. But, remember itís just my onion pi.

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