Our deep and finite search for connection

Dalton Delan
4 min readSep 2, 2023

We emerge into the light of the world as part of a pair, destined for separation. Umbilically bound to our mother, we bear innate dualism we spend our lives trying to recreate. In illness or mental distress, we feel most alone. It is an intimation of death, the ultimate parting. To overcome existential dread, some chase psychedelic sensations of oneness with the universe. Many, since biblical times, have clung to religious faith in heaven. I envy all of these.

I don’t pretend to know what comes next. A lifelong boater, I love the sea, the great mother, and perhaps when I cross those waters I will see what lies beyond. It doesn’t matter. The present is the only tense in which we live. In that “now,” I have spent a lifetime craving connection. I chose a career in communications, or it chose me, because it was a way to forge a human bond. I learned to write hearing my mother sound out phrases long past midnight, her advertising slogans and images designed to reach people emotionally.

Writing is a solitary craft. Facing my keyboard, I recall people and times passed. I see tiny dancers atop the keys, diaphanous beings of light and shadow. I enjoy their company, like a cat curled in my lap at four a.m. Early in my career, I sought the transition from words to film and television because these carried me into contact with people. There is always something two people can share, no matter how different our containers of skin may appear.

Since the Berkshire Eagle started up our EagleReels video series, it has offered another deepening of my, and our, connection with our readers and viewers. Beyond the news lies a person, or persons, whose chiaroscuro reveals tips, truths, tales. After one such visit in the series, I turned off the recording button. Our guest, Texas paramedic Matt Zavadsky, said he was happy to have talked with us, as he had memories of Great Barrington from his childhood. A native of the nutmeg state, he had learned to ski at Butternut. I felt a smile spread across my face. I could almost taste the snow. Why, so did I, I said. Perhaps we shared a chairlift ride together. I met so many kids that way, for those few minutes, warmed by human company.

What’s driving the proliferation of ambulance deserts in the United States and how can communities maintain emergency medical service response? Dalton Delan, a columnist with The Berkshire Eagle and host of EagleReels, interviews Matt Zavadsky, at-large director, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. Dalton and Matt discuss what makes emergency medical technicians and ambulance services vital communities and what are the keys to saving, restoring and maintaining access to life-saving care en route to the hospital.

With Labor Day upon us, I feel the joy of getting to know folks from all lines of work who are our guests on EagleReels. There is so much to learn, so much to admire. People care passionately about their work. Some dedicate their lives to the service and saving of others. Lifeguard Wyatt Werneth has saved so many lives. Then there were the others he could not save. He could name the number. Remember each. Life is a negotiation played out in three dimensions of Tetris against a fourth dimension of time. In the give-and-take that is conversation, I experience a taste of these other lives. Each glorious, mundane, sad, fun. In this private one that we inhabit, our singular journey, we don’t get many do-overs, groundhog days.

Dalton Delan, a columnist with The Berkshire Eagle and host of EagleReels, interviews Wyatt Werneth, the national spokesperson for the American Lifeguard Association. This summer marks another swimming and beach season with a shortage of lifeguards. Dalton and Wyatt discuss the safety concerns, why there is a shortage of lifeguards and how folks can be safe this summer.

Through hearing the adventures, lessons and stories of others, we come to know the multiplicity of lives reserved only for felines. Reaching this juncture in my own passage through time — such a tiny finger-snap in the short history of homo sapiens on this earth — I catch myself daydreaming of alternate lives I might have lived. I want them all. The loved ones I would hold onto in any configuration. The careers I might have had. I coulda been a contender.

Culture and circumstance dictate as much as talent and genetics. I can belt out “Satisfaction” with Mick Jagger from the cheap seats, but my off-key karaoke is as close as I’ll get to rock stardom. In the Rubik’s cube of life, I did work with him, a few days in a lifetime. That visitation will have to do.

Such are the close encounters that writing and media have brought me. In sharing them, others may find amusement, liminal truths, alterations in the paths of the tiniest atoms. These wispy brushstrokes of people enter the rooms of our own memories. As in the spectral voiceover which opens the film “Bladerunner,” I wonder what will become of all these experiences when I cease to be. Like a garage sale, the inhabitants of my brain will disperse to the four winds. Perhaps the sea will reclaim them. Or not.

We shall reach our journey’s end. There are billions like me. Each touched by the precious flame of life. By that light we transmute our dark passage from the womb. Labor Day indeed.



Dalton Delan

Winner of three Emmy Awards, Dalton Delan pens biweekly The Unspin Room, which began August 7, 2016 in The Berkshire Eagle; it has appeared in 50+ newspapers.