My Year as a Map of Human Connections

By: Clari Mastronardi, Unsettled Experience Leader

A few days ago, I decided to make good use of an 8 hour flight to make my end of the year reflection. I took a notebook, a bunch of pens, and my 2 main memory collecting resources: my calendar and my photos (for me it’s easier to track moments and emotions with visual aids rather than just relying on my memory!). I placed everything on top of the mini airplane table and started the process. 

As a first step, I went through everything that I found and wrote down what I considered important that happened this year: trips, gatherings, workshops, moments in nature, conversations, and activities. It didn’t matter how magnanimus the moment was, for me the “importance stamp” was given when a moment had left a mark on me. I went month by month, trying to recall how I was feeling and what I was thinking back then. How that mark was born and how it looks like now. 

One thing that I realized after going through everything I wrote down, was that the common denominator among all these moments was, unsurprisingly, people. And that all of those impactful moments were rooted in one major thing: human connection. 

In 2019, while leading 10 Unsettled retreats, I’ve met around 150 people from different backgrounds, coming from all over the world to take 1 month or 2 weeks  to live differently, to challenge themselves, and to see what’s beyond the known. Every single one of them taught me something about themselves, their cultures, their own personal stories. Every single one of them has been an endless well of information about ways of living in this world and understanding it. Every single one of them has been a door to learn about myself, my limitations, weaknesses, and strengths. Each one of them has been a mirror with which I can reflect, learn, and grow upon. 

All these moments that I wrote down highlighted the way in which these people had an impact and left a mark on me that will never be erased… as long as I keep it alive by interacting and sharing it with others. 

Every person we meet in our lives leaves a mark on us, a little trace that travels with us wherever we go. Even if those connections seem shallow or unimportant at the time, our body, mind, and soul- all of our cells – have the power to capture that interaction and store it.  Then, every time we meet someone or have an experience that in any way reminds us of that person, that mark wakes up after hibernation, reactivates, and makes an association. 

Sometimes that association is more tangible – that person works as X just like Z – or sometimes the resemblance is more subtle – this conversation reminds me of when W was talking about F topic, or that makes me feel just like when X said that to me. With all of these experiences stored in our own personal hard drives, we can start building our own “interaction map” that links our historical connections with people, and that eventually leads to a better understanding of ourselves and others. In this way, every human interaction is an opportunity, a door to build bridges across countries, continents, or even a chance to leave a mark on that person that you see every day at your favorite coffee shop.

So, what marks do we want to leave on others in 2020? What marks are we hoping to receive? 

Mark, Manjit, Steffany, Sophia, Melody, Kathleen, Stephanie, Devon, Amaar, Claudia, Katie, Monica, Mark, Jennifer, Trine, Theresa, Nikki, Natasha, Maddie, Haley, Erin, Mark, Bruno, Emily, Lyly, Tara, Alexandra, Alina, Dayo, Vee, Tahlia, Yoav, Anna, Kimberly, Daphna, Dahlia, Zaynab, Alex, Lindsey, Janine, Marissa, Aurora, Nina, Stephanie, Jessica, Alice, Tina, Sarra, Sheila, Ann, Ksenia, Rafal, Yara, Carolina, Leslie, Umar, Halah, Sabrina, Patricia, Harini, Tina, Michelle, Candice, Adrian, Ayrid, Mariya, Betty, Jenn, Nina, Ephia, Matthew, Deborah, Tsholo, Sherri, Paulina, Angelica. Nithya, Rezzan, Leigh, Youmna, Rae, Maxine, Patricia, Rima, Aradhita, Charlee, Sangeeta, Julia, John, Matthew, Andreea, Anna, Maya, Sydney, Andrew, Ageel, Andrea, Marianna, Marie, Kimberly, Laura, Fatin, Patricia, Khosi, Carrie, Armida, Toni, Dave, Laxman, Jason,  Aimee, Jennea, Federica, Bonnie, Lauren, Vinita, Jessica, Alexia,Marcela, Lutz, Lelde, Karen, Bogdan, Amre, Tareq, Bebe, Gina, Paul, Carsten, Kathy, Safeya, David, Alanna, Eralee, Lara, Gareth, Tanya, Uresh, Lisa, Shelina, Dreyer, Aaron, Candice, Ali, Lamia, Kristen , Alina, Ellen, Reihaneh, Rachel, Sophie, Jeannette, Laerta, Georgios, Vicky, Kelly, and Alam: my 2019 has been rooted in each and every single one of you. Thank you. 


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