The right tension of links

By 1990, at the dawn of the Web, Michel Serres was publishing Le Contrat Naturel (further translated into English as The Natural Contract). In this book the philosopher makes a strong and poetic evocation of those collective ventures where contracts are materialized by cords, lines, ropes, such as sailing and climbing. Those lines link people not only to each other, but to their apparatus (sails, winches, harnesses and spikes) and to the harsh natural elements with which they are engaged (wind and waves, ice and rocks). In high sea as in high mountain, in order to ensure the cohesion and security of the team, the lines need to be tightened. And, adds Serres, this tightening is not only a safeguard, it's also a condition for the line to convey information, in a way which is more immediately efficient than language in situations where you can't afford delays in appreciation of situation and decision. If the line is too slack, you do not feel the sail and the wind, you lose connection with your climbing mate. On the other hand, excessive tension means opposition and risk of breaking the line, and being tightly connected must not impede movement. Michel Serres does not mention martial arts, but in his excellent "guide for beginners" Aikido From the Inside Out, Howard Bornstein has similar thoughts in his chapter dedicated to connection. Connection has to be maintained just at the right level of tension, by feeling what he calls the point of first resistance.
When you connect like this, you become one with your partner in a very real, experiential way. When you move, your partner moves, at the same time and in the same direction. You are really one, in terms of movement. Your experience of movement is basically the same as if you were moving entirely by yourself.
Of course, understanding in theory those general principles will not make you an experienced sailor, climber or martial artist. You will have to practice and practice to get the quality of touch enabling you to keep the lines at the right tension, making everyone safe and giving you this wonderful feeling of being one with your teammates, partners, and the world around you.

Our online experience should abide by the same rules. All the links we are texting should be of the same quality as those of sailors, climbers and martial artists, enabling us to move together. In the stormy events we are facing, we need more than ever to reduce the slack in our connections.