i would talk to my piano students about practicing. i drew a comparison of the time they spent, the way they allocated their time to cupcakes and frosting. i would start by saying let’s talk about practicing, whereupon most of my sweet students would roll their eyes, a common reaction to the word ‘practice’. i would suddenly switch topics to cupcakes and they would happily skip down that path, thinking they were avoiding the ‘practice’ chat. we would talk about our favorite cupcakes and the very best frosting that could possibly earn the top spot on those treats. and once we discerned that very-important-information, i would pose a question:
let’s say you have a small cup of frosting. delicious, fluffy, sweet-as-can-be frosting. it’s just a small cup – like the tiny sippy cups you drank from as a baby. and you have a choice. you can either frost one cupcake with that sippy-cup-full or you can frost all 24 of the cupcakes that are waiting on the counter from the oven. which will you do?
my students, all brilliant cupcake-lovers and bright lights in the world, would sit and ponder for a second and then reply that they would frost the one cupcake. otherwise, they would explain, the frosting would be so thin that you would barely know it is there, you would barely taste it, and it would be like there was no frosting at all. and besides, if they got to eat the one cupcake, they wanted the one rich with frosting. who can argue with that?
contrary to their belief that the ‘practice’ talk was over, i would clutch and shift gears back to the piano. “if you have a little bit of time to practice and pieces of music that might be difficult to play, would it be better to hurry through every piece spending a few moments on each OR would it be better to spend that little bit of time on one or two?” i would ask (in student-age-appropriate language). invariably they would frost one cupcake.
i believe the same applies to connection. with the advent of the vast array of social media choices, we have applied an ultra-thin layer of frosting to our connections. we have thinned out the time we truly spend on relationship – pure individual relationships. we have, oddly, chosen to spend easily-addicted quantities of time and emotional energy on social media “relationships” with people we do not know rather than being in real touch with the people closest to us. we expect those people to learn of things on outlets and from posts instead of simply telling them, picking up a phone and calling or texting them.
we are not connected to a network. we are connected to a network. both of these are true.
the question for me, one that i must look at as well, is – how much time are we spending on that network, on individual people we love and care about? is there any frosting at all?