I’ve always disliked the iconic text Romeo and Juliet. I appreciated the aesthetics of the Luhrmann film version, but I still don’t like Shakespeare’s play – but why don’t I like it? For me it has a lot to do with already knowing what is going to happen, and knowing the tragic misunderstandings and the ultimate futility of the relationship and the waste of the young lives. They want to build a lasting relationship, but everything is against them making a long-term connection. However, despite my dislike I seem strangely drawn to modern tales of the star-crossed. In my geek TV viewing, I was recently drawn in by last year’s Sci-Fi one season show Star Crossed, a show in which an alien race, the Atrians, have crash-landed on earth and subsequently been killed or locked away in a detention compound by humans. A human girl, Emery, and an alien boy, Roman, form a connection as children and re-connect years later in high school when a select number of Atrian teenagers are allowed to attend the local high school as part of a pilot program. Variations on the usual formula follow, where Emery and Roman try to pursue a relationship amidst misunderstandings and hostilities and societal sabotage by both humans and Atrians. The show was cancelled after one season, but the frustration of individuals and races striving to connect but failing to trust one another resonates.
It’s been said before that technology promised to connect us more than ever and yet people in western individualist societies continue to live alone, die alone, end long-term relationships, struggle to relate to their children, misunderstand and demonise one another. So there’s the glass is half-empty perspective. However when I think about connecting, as well as significant times with friends and family, I also think about great day-to-day connection highlights, the ordinary things that are sometimes forgotten: the few times I’ve let someone from a side street drive in front of me into the main flow of traffic on a busy road and received a thankful wave and smile or the time I was standing at the door of a train full of grim commuters and both me and the man next to me (we hadn’t even noticed each other) automatically raised our ET-phone-home-like pointer fingers to push the door button at the same time, at which point we then looked at each other, smiled and laughed. Moments of connection with strangers that didn’t continue beyond that point, but moments of sharing something powerful enough to stay with me. In a world where connections can be hard to make and hard to maintain, where personal conflicts can haunt us, recognising and finding joy in every big and small connection matters.