I know. Connecting Solo. Doesn’t really make sense, does it? Yet look at our language. Tuna fish. Hot fire. Civil war. Current history. Those don’t make sense either if you think about it.

And so yes. Absolutely. Connecting Solo is a thing. I know it’s a thing because I do it all the time. It’s one of my favorite things and it comes so natural to me that I sometimes forget or struggle to relate when I talk with people who say things like, “But how do you do that on your own?” or “I can’t imagine going somewhere by myself” or “I’ve never been anywhere by myself before – don’t people stare at you?”.

Connecting Solo is the art of going somewhere, anywhere, by yourself and making connections. It could be the grocery store or a place to walk or a spot to eat or in the case of one of my more recent experiences, Taos, New Mexico.

I unabashedly admit I am over the smartphone phase. No offense Steve Jobs – you were a Pisces who shared the same birthday as me – but I often think if someone from our past were to hover over us at any given moment, they would wonder what the hell is wrong with us. Couples sitting at restaurants with their heads in their phones – not engaging with one another but having to check social media and to be available on-demand. Are we really that busy? My concern…are we that empty? If you read closely, you’ll learn that Steve Jobs was concerned about those things too, and he discussed the disconnect just before he died.

And perhaps that’s why Connecting Solo is making my world a better place to be. My recent example had me in Taos to write a couple of stories on the merits of solo travel. It was at Michael Hearn’s Big Barn Dance that started a ripple effect of Connecting Solo.

I’ve blogged about J.J. Basil, the little plastic bird that has brought kindred spirits together and helped to create meaningful relationships. That was one of the dozens of Connecting Solo experiences I had. I also met Kellie, a woman who lives in Wimberley, Texas, who invited me to her house concert – kindred spirits, experiencing an immediate connection.

And then there was Chrissie. We were staying at the same place. Each morning as I was up early with Gracie to do all the important dog things which included standing and sniffing the same blades of grass for seven minutes (she is helping me with patience), and moving to another section of yard to walk and circle and circle and walk for four minutes before deciding on the optimal place to release last night’s meal (she is really helping me with patience), before bolting off to say good morning to the kind soul sitting in a rocker reading a book on the porch nearby.

Chrissie and I forged a friendship and she introduced me to her boyfriend Spider who happened to be in town to play harmonica at the Big Barn Dance. And did he play. Spider plays the harmonica with such talent and depth that it makes your heart move and your mind think about it. At some points as he played, it almost sounded voice-like with the subtle shifts and nuances. His ability to make that tiny instrument sound like whatever he wants it to, commanded the attention of a packed house.

Are you picking up the Connecting Solo theme? I was in town, alone, with my dog. And that led me to get to know one person who connected me with another who connected me with more. Would I have noticed the tall, Scottish guy playing the harmonica alongside Michael Hearn? Perhaps. But through connecting with people, I received far greater gifts.

Later, Chrissie and Spider came to Austin and by the end of their visit, we had not only enjoyed a night of jazz but I had also enjoyed another harmonica concert in downtown Austin where I got to know an all-new group of friends, with like-minded interests. The bonus for me? Just like the Big Barn Dance, everyone was there to hear the music. To listen. To be. I was surrounded with people who wanted to hear the music and to simply, be present. What a present!

And ultimately, what started with a dog who wanted seven minutes to sniff the grass and an additional four to circle around to find the optimal poop spot brought me to sitting with new friends under a dark sky dotted with bright stars listening to Walt Wilkins, one of Texas’ finest.

Our lives are rich with opportunities. I’m learning more each day that when I stop and allow myself to be present in the moment and open to those around me that I am rewarded time and again. I’m learning to unplug so I can connect.

Thanks for reading,

~ Haven