Sunday, September 18, 2016

The play of relation

I used to spend a lot of time in bars.  I still do sometimes.  A bar is a place where you can go to numb your pain with alcohol, and usually be surrounded by people who feel the same need, who you can frequently talk to.  I took a while off from bars--I did give up drinking for a while, but it does still seem to have some role to play in my life--but went to two yesterday.

This morning I woke up feeling something was different yesterday, and it hit me: I was more emotionally present than I used to be.  Most people, everywhere, in all circumstances, approach other people with some sort of need.  They might need to feel understood, or validated, or sexually desirable.  They might want to use someone for something--for short term companionship, for sex, for money, for a favor of some sort.  Many people are simply in the habit of being around people and being with nearly anyone makes the feeling of solitude--the one that calls up a host of unwanted and "exiled" emotions--go away.

So two people start talking.  Both have latent agendas, even if they don't process it that way.  Both know that to talk you have to listen, but their listening becomes a hiatus in their talking.  They are secretly focusing on that one cool story or point that they just have to make in response.

Most people, when they are interacting, are doing so selfishly.  I don't say this as an intrinsically bad thing.  It is inevitable in some respects.

In past posts I have spoken to our animal nature, our instinctual similarities to primates.  What I want to be clear is that we are not BOUND by our past, and our present biology.  What we need to recognize is what is THERE, so we can grow beyond it.  We are not chimpanzees.  They lack the ability to grow beyond their own nature, at least as a matter of conscious planning born in abstract thought.  We have this ability, especially over time.

Who are two people who approach a relationship of any length playfully, without an agenda?  They are cocreators of something new and interesting.  Rather than think of what you want, or even what the other person wants, you just see what happens.

It seems to me that both need and compassion--if compassion is a need, as I have argued it can be and often is, where people NEED to be needed--make us blind.  We do not SEE the person in front of this.  At a deep level, I have in mind Martin Bubers I and Thou, "Ich und du".

It seems to me that many of us are habituated to approaching others with some sort of purpose in mind, with some sort of pulling or pushing in mind.  But what if you are two balloons who touch in the wind?

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