Celebrating human connection this Valentine's Day

June Carter was tuning her guitar backstage, and singing "a-ummm" to warm up her vocal chords. She did so based on a recommendation from her friend Elvis Presley, who had been touring with her for several weeks. Elvis was enchanted by the musical stylings of Johnny Cash, and had taught June to warm up her voice using a technique he’d learned from the yet undiscovered singer-songwriter from Arkansas.

June heard a sound and looked up, surprised to find none other than Johnny Cash, in the flesh, looking at her funny. Later, she wrote of that moment: “Johnny Cash took me by the hand and said, 'I've always wanted to meet you.' The strangest feeling came over me. I was afraid to look him in the eyes. It was one of the things I did best. I never stammered, and still found myself not able to say much of anything.”

They married 13 years later, having established themselves as one of the most celebrated folk music duo’s of all time.

When I meet two people and can tell they’ve a history together of some sort, I love to ask the simple, but surprisingly enlightening question: How did you meet one another?   

Whether they were brought together by the King of Rock 'n' Roll himself, as participants on a Korean game show, or maybe simply because someone mustered the courage to say hello – the story that results always brings a smile to my face and a warm feeling to my insides.   

As we approach the dreaded season during which grocery stores devote an entire aisle to gaudy pink fuzzy things, I’ve been thinking about how to perceive Valentine’s Day in a way that doesn’t make me want to hide for 24 hours. I’ve concluded that it’s a time to reflect on how amazing it is to connect with other people, perhaps with people with entirely different experiences than our own, brought into our lives in some lovely, uncanny way or another. It can be a celebration of that little thing inside us that makes us smile at strangers, or write a letter to a long lost friend.

Here are some books to get you psyched for the day of pink things:

Meet Cute 

Soul Friends: The Transforming Power of Deep Human Connection 

Eleanor & Park 

And if those don’t do the trick, we’ve got something else for you: On Feb. 8 at Anythink Wright Farms, from 6:30-8pm, we are hosting our second Community Voices series event, entitled “How Did You Meet?” Bring along a friend or a “more than friend” and join us for an evening in which we will fully embrace the warm fuzzies. We will be hearing from Dr. Teresa Cooney, head of the Sociology department at CU-Denver, on the science behind human connection, and swapping “How did you meet?” stories with fellow community members. We can’t all be introduced to one another through Elvis, but everyone has a sweet story to tell. We can’t wait to hear yours!

Johnny Cash & June Carter - Jackson


Great work, Maria. I love how you use the story of June Carter meeting Johnny Cash to illustrate this broader idea about love and connection. And props to the Eleanor and Park shout-out!