Human connection quote from book with book cover on desert background.

“After the meal another grace is recited, with the ugly noise of chairs pulled back from the tables.”

Normal People by Sally Rooney

I found a human connection through an irritating sound. My sons believe only I can do that. So profound, right?

Just think. Does anyone in the world (other that people with no chairs at tables anywhere in their culture) not know that sound? And why is it so ugly? I heard it immediately and cringed. “Pull your chair back gently, people! Please!”

I sat and thought about other sounds like that, one’s that anyone would instantly recognize as universally bothersome. I couldn’t think of any but “nails on a chalkboard” but that’s beginning to be unrecognizable these days. A personal one is “fingers run on wrapped guitar strings.” Even writing it makes my teeth hurt and my hair stand up.

Relatable Feelings Create a Human Connection

I loved this book for all the recognizable feelings it brought up, many of which we hide away or refuse to recognize; loss, rejection, physical desire, the urge to connect with another person on a deeper level. I didn’t like it at first. It hurt and I was afraid it wouldn’t end well. I need some good endings right now, the ones that give me hope for the future, the ones that make me think, “You see? This person gets it!”

It did. Don’t worry. It wasn’t pleasant reading, but it was touching, and I didn’t close it thinking, “Well, shit.” It’s listed as a good book in my library.

Back to the quote for a minute! Because I’m reading a book about reading literature, I noticed something interesting about this sentence, and the paragraph leading into it.

He’s in the dining hall at university, going through the motions as a student, feeling a bit lonely. Everyone else seems to go along like everything is as it should be. No one looks deeply. No one actually does the reading assigned in classes. They simply skip over the surface of life.

Meals. You file in, get your food, sit at a table. Quiet moment, grace is said, eat, finish, grace is said again…scrape…activity resumes.

Why do most of us live this way? And, a question I continue to ask myself, how can you stand it?! Why am I strange for “overthinking,” asking questions, looking for answers, and hoping for connections? The moment I think I’m beginning to get somewhere with another human being…scrape…the chairs push back and everyone keeps on keeping on in the way they all have all their lives.

Step outside the loop. Do things your way, at your own pace. Do the things that make you happy. Ask the big questions of others and yourself. The what and how are much easier than getting into the why, but the why questions are what human connections are made up of.


If you’d like to go back and read my thoughts on this book from the beginning, start at my post New Read: Normal People.

You can find “Normal People” by Sally Rooney on Amazon.

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