Rethinking Relationship

I teach this all the time to my students, do we really know what a word means. What is work? Does it mean the same to you as it does to me? Or as we are discussing this module, what is poverty? What is well being? What is quality of life? In my head, I theoretically get the idea that words can carry individualized meanings. How I define something like compassion for example, may not be the same as how somebody else defines it, yet both are right.

What got me here was this whole notion of relationship as an event in a talk given by Barbara Emrys. She said, “Relationship is an event that holds your attention.” I had to sit with this for a while because I realized that for most of my life I had thought about relationships as being with other people. Thinking about it this way makes me realize that I also have a relationship with all of life. Right now, I am in relationship with the thoughts I am putting on this paper. Then for a moment, I was in relationship with my scalp that was itching. Now I am back in relationship with my thoughts. As I began thinking about how my throat was dry, my relationship with my thoughts went on the shelf, while I was in relationship with the feelings in my throat and with the water as it quenched that feeling.

One of the questions she asked in her talk was how are your relationships? For the most part, I would have to say my relationship with myself is loving. However, there are some ideas that as they come up, I have to move away from because they no longer work with where I want to move in my life. Yet there are those ideas and thoughts that I am still struggling with for some reason.

I am in relationship with every thought, feeling, idea, which comes into my consciousness and even those that are lingering in my unconscious. As I have been thinking about her ideas, they reminded me of the Buddhist teachings about mindfulness and Tolle’s writings about the power of now and being present. sometimes, it might look as if I am in a relationship with someone because we are sitting at the table having a conversation, but if in my head I am thinking about what I still need to do or what I need to do next, then I am in relationship with those ideas because that is what is holding my attention, not the person I am supposed to be in relationship with.

It also reminded me of something I wrote a long time ago about how one couldn’t multitask and be mindful at the same time. If I am multi-tasking then I am not in an intimate relationship with anything. Perhaps the most vivid memory for me was one of the last times I was able to go to the Public Market. I was so busy thinking about what I needed, how much time I had left, if Zoe was ok as going to the market is not a pleasure trip for her that I was not in relationship with my movements and went over the curb in my wheelchair without my seat belt on and went flying. It is one of those memories, which reminds me of the importance to be my wellness of being present in my relationship with my self at all times.

My relationship with my thoughts, ideas, feelings, food, nature, people, and life in general is only as intimate as I allow it to be. If I am not present with what is seeking to hold my attention, then the possibility for any real intimacy does not exist. I cannot be out on a date with Zoe and expect to have an intimate conversation with her, if all I am thinking about is what is left on my things to do list. We can be in the most romantic setting, but if my things to do list has my attention, then she does not and the ability to have a romantic and intimate evening diminishes.

So today, I am going to focus on being present with my thoughts, ideas, feelings, people, food and all that life brings me.