artwork by Silvia Savala
How do we stay creatively connected with people we care about? Change changes things. Relationships change over time. Job transfers or unemployment pick us up and plant us in a new place far away from old friends or family. Divorce may lessen the amount of time spent with children. Children grow up and go to college. Children grow up, get married and spend time with their spouse's family too. Hospitalizations or rest homes change where and how we interact with loved ones.
There are a lot of ways to connect with people: Skype. Snail mail (correspondence with a real stamp). Facebook. Vacations together. Trips to the hospital or rest home. Texting. Phone calls. Lunch dates. Nature walks. These all work, but what works for you, may not be as meaningful to your son, daughter, husband, friend, parent or sibling.
Sometimes the most meaningful creative connections are when the other person truly, truly feels that we are speaking "their language", that we understand what speaks to them. The Five Love Languages books by Gary Chapman (translated into 39 languages by now) have helped so many people learn how to connect with people in the ways that matter most . . . to individual people. He points out that physical touch, acts of service, quality time, gifts, or words of affirmation (written or spoken) are languages of love, and that we just have to be observant enough to figure out what "speaks" to the other person.
How do you figure out what "speaks" to them? Often,
One book reviewer of The Five Love Languages book said, "Often, we tend to give love in the languages we are most fluent in, which usually ends up being the languages that fill up our love tank. This would be why a husband who does yard work, dishes, car maintenance, etc. (Acts of Service) is floored when his wife says "You never show me you love me. You never cuddle with me, or caress my hair, or make the first move." (Physical Touch). Or, "Why don't you spend time with me? Why do you work so much?" (Quality Time). And, "Why don't you buy me flowers? Why don't you ever get me cards or balloons...just because?" (Gifts) Or "You never tell me what I mean to you. Why don't you ever share with me what I mean to you, or what my good qualities are?" (Words of Affirmation) But, if her language is primarily Acts of Service, she'll feel so loved and honored because her husband does so many things for her, and thus feels "full" in her love tank.
Staying creatively connected is much more rewarding to your individual friends or family members, and ultimately to you, when you learn to "speak their language". Each person is different, so spend time observing, thinking and praying to understand each person and you will.
sculpture by George W. Hart