I once got into a conversation with a friend about what it really means to miss someone else. It’s common to casually tell friends and family we have not seen in a while that we miss them, sometimes as a perfunctory response to their own declaration. We get busy with chasing our dreams and making ends meet that we rarely feel any vacuum created by people’s absence but when eventually meet and we say we miss them, what do we really miss: their voice, touch, mannerisms, actions or what exactly?
The mind is quite capable of retaining and enhancing thoughts even, so it can’t be that we miss thinking about them. Besides, in this social media age, we are often a click away from friends all around the world: Whatsapp and BBM chats, Twitter mentions and DM’s, Facebook posts and even heavily filtered Instagram moments of selfie-vainglory. Add to the list mails, Youtube, Skype and Dropbox that all allow for transfer of heavy videos, sometimes in real-time chats. Technology has summarized space into virtual nothingness and only the absence of flesh may really not be felt when we fully explore these mediums. In a manner of exaggerated speaking, except someone’s absence has probably deprived you of regular sexual encounters with them (if you two are not given to celibacy), can you still honestly claim to miss them given all the ways you can keep in touch by the minute?
We emote differently and some of us are not as much in touch as others with the ‘mushy’ side but it is also true that the things we do when we are with people tends to create memories they relish when we travel, walk out of their lives or even bow to death. I think it is a function of expectations, really. For long, I was quite transactional in my interactions with people thus creating mental compartments for people according to what we had to do together, switching to each as the occasion demands. I once visited a member of the organisation I co-founded which is dedicated to curating ideas for nation-building and for the two hours I spent, she kept waiting for me to discuss something official which she believed must have been the reason behind my visit but that didn’t happen. It was a conscious visit to break out of my normal routine organizational interaction and I paid visits to about four other people within that circle, ensuring that I kept the organisation out of the talks completely. Before that time, I was honestly more likely to miss our strategy sessions together than miss these people on an individual and personal level.
Understanding that we are all connected in a way vital to the survival of humanity is important. If I leaned more to my introvert cravings but similarly want to influence a world full of both introverts and extroverts as well as all the ranges between, I doubt I will be able to do much. I have thus learnt to evolve, to embrace the sweetness of our diversities and be as much interested in people’s outputs as their outlooks. When I work, talk, plan or worship with people, I try to look for the little details that matter to them and contribute my quota to helping them enjoy the experience of our time-bound existence.
I have learnt – and still learning – to keep in touch as much as I can and when we have gone our different ways, I hope to remember one spectacular thing, it could be a unique virtue or even an innocuous trait like a unique smile, raspy voice, gripping handshake or rare skirt-pleats. More than before, I’m likely to check people out from time to time with the help of technology and string conversations around those little things even if there is nothing serious to discuss but that’s not to say some people won’t elude me. So, if despite my conscious effort to create a memory to long for, we bump into one another someday somewhere and you ask “Did you miss me?” and I honestly tell you that I didn’t, will you still take offence?