In our modern world, we can often feel isolated at times. This may especially be the case during a period of social distancing, where we are actively encouraged to be separate and far apart.
This exercise is designed to get us thinking about all the invisible connections that sustain and support us in our lives, but which we don't always see or acknowledge. In 1623, in his prose work Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, John Donne wrote that "no man is an island entire of itself / every man is a piece of the continent / a part of the main," drawing our attention to the ways in which we are, unwittingly or otherwise, interconnected as part of a larger community. Our modern, capitalist way of living often makes these interconnections difficult to see. Whether it's the farm-workers, manufacturers, packagers, delivery drivers and supermarket staff who are involved in the physical transportation of food from the ground to your table, the hundreds of other invisible workers whose labour is taken for granted everyday, or the people directly around you whose labour is unseen and unacknowledged, our contemporary society and its capitalist structures often prevent us from fully appreciating the social connections that sustain us all, and make our lives that little bit easier. This isn't to say that we are all ungrateful or oblivious, but that our economic and social systems are often constructed in ways that make these kinds of work less easy to see.
The exercise is very simple. Take fifteen minutes to consider, and list, all the invisible connections you can think of in your life. Maybe it's the waste collectors who take away your rubbish every week; the cleaners who hoover and tidy your work space, the gardeners who keep public spaces clean and blooming, the workers who maintain sewage systems, broadband services, roads and power supplies. Maybe it's the chain of people who were instrumental in producing, picking, packing and delivering your food. Maybe it's your co-workers, family members or friends whose work goes unacknowledged. It may well be that you are a person whose work is often unacknowledged (though for the purposes of this exercise, we are turning our lens outwards to think about interconnections beyond ourselves).
Choose one of the connections on your list and write a creative piece that explores this connection more deeply. Maybe it's a letter of thanks to a worker you will never see (don't worry; you don't have to send the letter). Maybe it's a short creative essay about the ways in which you are connected with the world. Maybe it's an ode (a poem of praise) to a particular connection. Maybe it's something totally different. Don't be afraid to use the prompt to explore other ideas.
If you'd like to share your creative piece on this site, feel free to email your work to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing your explorations in interconnectivity!