Closing on 2018
Christmas has passed. As always, it is a time of emotional intensity and it is distilled through our relationships with others. I’m listening to Norah Jones this evening as I write this December blog. She sings from the heart about so many kinds of relationships. If one is willing to surf that emotional wave, this time of year can offer personal clarity and wisdom about the relationships we have, and especially the one with self.
This past holiday season I have had a number of extraordinary conversations with folks. From new acquaintances to close family members, their narratives have drawn me in—so many different ways of touching the heart. Families, of course, know our stories, our shortcomings, as well as our triumphs. We love each other as family, or maybe because we arefamily. And while that kind of loving tie is a staff one can often lean on, it isn’t always easy. The shadow-self can erupt on the scene, venting all manner of personal angst. But nonetheless, we continue to love each other, at least in some fashion. Robert Frost’s iconic words still ring true: “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Sometimes, however, I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. From a storm, she is thrown from Kansas (in black and white) and arrives in Oz (bursting forth in technicolor). How does one describe Oz to those that have only seen Kansas? How do you tell of a change in your inner world if you don’t share a common experience? The family table is the place where we test our own personal evolution. Can we stand in the truth of our evolving self and avoid being drawn back into old family scripts? Are we able to continually create new and loving ties with those folks that “must love us?”
Then there are friends. Some are casual, some are new and full of potential; some are ancient and deep as the soul. They are all to be cherished. Yet, there are only a handful of intimate kindred spirits that one keeps close to the heart, traversing decades. In a way, these soul friends may know us best. With them I am transparent, vulnerable, and uninhibitedly my ever-changing self. In fact, these close friends champion that growing up process that is the task of individuation—sometimes holding my hand, frequently offering challenging truths, always with encouragement, acceptance, and love. In return, I am honored to be there for them. There are a just a few of these people in my life, and you know who you are! I am grateful.
Then lovers. That’s a spectrum worthy of many more words than this brief blog. I can’t pretend to offer much wisdom on this subject. My marriage of 22 years ended suddenly several years ago. What that experience taught me, however, is that the best romantic relationships are built on honesty and transparency—about yourself, and that love can come in many sizes, shapes, ages, and types. Moreover, I think Martin Buber’s I-Thou philosophy still offers a simple yet profound model regarding a relationship with the “other;” this notion of mutuality. And with my special “person,” I can delight in someone who deeply understands my version of Oz. Probably the rest is luck…
So as I dive into 2019, I am thinking about how I can be more present and mindful in those relationships that I cherish. I can choose to offer only kindness and patience to all family members, especially those who may be living in their own distant Kansas; I can celebrate more frequently my dear friends in deed and thought; and lastly, I can strive to be my most transparent, open-hearted self with a significant other, having the courage to love deeply and impatiently.
With all relationships, I want to have an ongoing richly hued conversation—just as colorful as Oz, and maybe laugh so much that my face hurts. May 2019 be filled with an abundance of loving, joyful, and soulful relationships for you and yours…