Connecting to soul

By Darren Lum

No matter how many advancements are made when it comes to communication technology there is unlikely going to be anything as fulfilling as the in-person interactions between people.
This was evident as I walked through Head Lake Park in Haliburton during the Art and Craft Festival on Friday afternoon, which returned for the first time since before the pandemic.
The annual event brought 75 artists and artisans to showcase their passions from Friday to Sunday this past weekend and the buzz in town was palpable. Even for passerbys, who didn’t know the festival was on could recognize the energy emanating from the park established by the Rotary Club of Haliburton.
Connection between people is a powerful thing, serving like satiating food for a person’s diet. Until this year we didn’t realize how much we really needed this.

Virtual platforms, no matter how engaging or how many bytes are streamed to ensure clarity or to redue lag in the video displayed, just can’t convey the literal and figurative depth of what is delivered by a person. What is digested through virtual communication is only filler in a diet like the empty calories derived from junk food.
Examples of substantive connection was all around in the park. It was in the smiles. The eyes. The interactions of laughter, a touch on the shoulder. The countless nuances of gestures by a person in the way they hold themselves, the cadence of speech, the twitches in the face are taken in consciously and, mostly, subconsciously.
When a person is a reduced to a square box – no offence Zoom – there is a limit to what body language is able to convey through a screen.
Not to dismiss the past few months of past in-person events, which returned for the most part since the pandemic-related health measures forced cancellations were lifted, but there was an added feeling of connection in the park. It’s something I didn’t notice with other events I’ve attended before with this event. The intensity was greater.

It was clear people who call Haliburton County home year-round, or just seasonally, exhibited the full gamut of displays of engagement, which showed how much people missed interactions, whether it manifested itself during transactions between artists and art lovers, who were excited to take home their special find for themselves or for loved ones, or even to see the reactions from people seeing the circulating performers who moved between vendor tents, as part of The Birds by Les Chasseurs de Reves as presented by Razzamataz Kids’ Shows!
With my camera to hide me, I usually don’t always engage people, shooting, but with so many recognizable faces I found I was moving from person to person, catching up about life. What started as an hour of commitment for work turned out to be an additional hour of connection, which left me behind with work, but ahead with greater emotional energy.

As one person I saw said, ‘It’s like when you go to the grocery store.’ Yes, it did resemble the local resident’s dilemma of a visit to the grocery store and running into one person and then another and another, speaking to each in turn, catching up about family, politics and the latest current event, or latest trip to the Lake Superior Provincial Park.
Zoom and other platforms have their place. However, I prefer the engagement of life by the smiles and the complementary wide eyes, indicating joy and showing the intangible qualities of the spirit rather than interpreting the pixels displayed on a screen of any size or quality. Here’s to life. Get out and connect to soul.