Months ago, just before we were to experience the Australian bushfires, floods and then this pandemic that will now forever mark the beginning of this decade, I sat down quite late at night and found some words to conceive this issue. It was that time of year when there’s a torrent of gatherings, you know those end of year ones you put your best earrings on for to lift your spirits so you can brave the crowd, while you silently dream of an unpopulated barefoot summer to come.
I’d called this the ‘Connection Issue’, a celebration of “communities, intimacy, kinship, living not only for ourselves but being a part of something bigger and understanding that our significance is not so much in virtue of our individuality but rather as a member of human society”.
I also wrote some words that we hear every day now, “we are all in this together.” However what I didn’t include was the question mark that had so clearly punctuated this in my mind at the time.
When I write about something it’s usually because it has made itself scarce in my life and looking back now, my instinct told me the world had lost its way, its inhabitants generally feeling spiritually bereft and unyoked.
Indeed, my yearned for solstice never actually came and instead we witnessed unbreathable air as our planet cried out amid devastation of life and habitat, while our collective conscience questioned the constant quest for scale, optimisation and hyper-productivity. The world was turning and instead of being right there with it, I wanted to get off. Not in a peace out, I’m going to buy a mango farm up north kind of way but more like, ‘Really, it shouldn’t be this hard. Should it, really?’
While nothing in the present dimension of today could be considered ideal and, honestly, there were even moments when we wondered if this issue could be made, we hope you can witness the many moments of true intimacy in its making. Our cover, created by a couple in isolation – model Heather Kemesky and model / photographer Erika Linder – inside and around their Los Angeles home shows the best bonds come, in Kemesky’s words, “with an open heart”. Just as artist Dean Cross articulates receptivity to belonging (if you only read one feature, then please let it be this), while Mona Kuhn’s story and images of connection and solidarity reiterate we are bound up with the existence of others. “It is clear to me,” she says, “that we connect beyond the physical and the spoken word. If you pay attention to your senses, to your perception, you will notice when you feel a certain pull towards someone, you possibly haven’t even met yet. What is that affinity if not a whisper of your soul wishing to connect with another.”
We are all united in how we want to emerge from this time: with a better world, a stronger ecosystem (filled, naturally with hugs, beach days and raving) and most of all, a greater appreciation for the power running through us.
I’d like to leave you with these words from astronaut Chris Hadfield that inspired me. “I would love the opportunity to take everybody on 100 orbits of the world with me. To sit by the window of the Space Station...and just take the time to watch the world. It is immensely, startlingly beautiful. Each time you come around the world, the world has changed – the weather patterns have changed, the seasons have changed...and you develop an increasing understanding and awareness of the world, like watching something grow and flower. And, inevitably, somewhere along the way you start to lose your sense...of 'us' and 'them.' You lose that sense that the little square that you walk around in is the only one that matters. The more people who could see the immensity of it, the beauty of it, the patience of it, the age of it, the toughness of the world and the precious unique beauty of it ... the better we would all be."
May we always know, we are not alone.
The Connection issue is out Thursday May 21 - pre-order it here.