Virtual Handshakes for Human Connection 3/19/20


Here are my Life in the Pause reflection for today.

I am often inspired by quotes from Vladimir Horowitz, the great pianist, who did not leave his house for twelve years (he was complicated). Later a guest at his home, James Burnham, said “Is it really true you didn’t leave this house for 12 years?” Horowitz, looking around, said, “You don’t like my house?”

Another Vladimir Horowitz story I enjoy is when a reporter asked him “Vladimir, how do you play the piano notes so much more beautifully than anyone else?”  Vladimir responded, “It is not the notes that I play more beautifully, …it is the pauses”

What is a handshake in the age of corona?

In many cultures, a handshake is a simple greeting – but actually not so simple.  It is truly an intuitive expression of human connection.  When do you start the handshake? How long and how vigorously do you shake? When do you end? Most handshakes occur without incident – they just do. However, there are typical examples of potential awkwardness – a hand extended but not requited, a grab that is too strong or too weak, and sometimes the shake is too short or too long.

There is no manual for how to shake hands. In this age of social isolation, how do we reinvent the “handshake” – to decline human contact but seek human connection.

Yesterday, I participated in a ZOOM video meeting for the first time. I instinctively gave a High Five on the screen.  It seems to be to be the new Corona style “hand shake”.  Although there is not the human touch of skin on the skin, I truly felt the human heart.  In addition, the novelty seemed to make everyone smile; I humbly hope it did.

In that spirit, I am going to always virtually “high five” when using ZOOM. During a company meeting I held on ZOOM yesterday, everyone gave a virtual “high five” at the same time. It was a touching and memorable moment.

Although we are remote, I do not want anyone to feel removed.  Separate space does not need to preclude synchronicity of spirit.