Relationship with Yourself

The defining aspects of relationships are becoming frequently overlooked or forgotten. I have even fallen prey to this thus impacting the things that I enjoy most, to include writing. What I wished I had realized sooner is that in order for us to be in a healthy relationship we must first have the same with ourselves.

There are many different types of relationships, but here I will be talking primarily about committed relationships with your significant other. Whether you are only dating, have been in a committed relationship for a considerable amount of time, or if you are even married, this is what I will be talking about today.

I honestly did not know what having a relationship actually meant. Before, I saw it as companionship. Having someone to go through life together with and be able to share the fun with. This was supported by my perceptions of relationships when I first began learning about them in high school. My how naïve I was.

When I was in high school, everyone was getting into relationships. You weren’t technically someone unless you had a boyfriend/girlfriend, were going on dates and double dates, attending all the dances, holding hands in the hallway, and making out in the secluded corners of the school. It was yet another social convention that you had to buy into and conform with. Coupled with everyone being horny teenagers, you can see just how misguided this sort of mindset is. I grew up seeing that in order to actually be someone, you had to be in a relationship with someone else first.

Is this a Western problem? I don’t think it is that exclusive. Yes, I have met my fair share of people who had a better committed relationship in high school than the majority of adults out there today. Hell, even I can be placed into that category as well. Throughout my travels and all the people I have met there seems to be a growing impetus for discovery of someone else instead of the discovery of self. Maybe its in our genes, but I’m no geneticist.

Last night, before going to bed, I asked myself: “If I were someone else, would I want to be in a relationship with me?” My answer was a very resounding “No.” I don’t know what I want, where I am going necessarily, or who I really am for starters. All of these are self-awareness items that I would expect someone else to have pretty well figured out before being involved with them. The thing is though is that there is no expectation or emphasis placed on expecting the very same from ourselves. Hence, this is my current homework as of late…

Self-realization and actualization, I feel, needs to be more strongly emphasized over the pursuits of what you can offer to someone else. Granted, there always needs to be a balance but how can we give our best to someone else when we don’t have a grasp on ourselves in the first place? As contradictory as it may sound, the first step to any relationship is to have a relationship with yourself first.


One with Oneness

utah-dirt-standingThere is something about being out in the middle of nowhere by yourself that is invigorating for me. Something about the sense of being alone. The dangers if something were to happen. Many people think it has to do with becoming one with nature. I however, think that it has more to do with being away from other people.

When was the last time you were alone? By choice that is… It is a funny realization that those who say they want to be alone are labeled as the “weird ones.” The internet, smartphones, social media, and craving for conformist socialization have made us so interconnected now that we are never alone anymore. To ask to be alone from anyone is the klaxon of some form of alien thought.

We never unplug because we feel the obligation to our friends, family, and whatever trends we are involved in. We keep waiting for the perfect time because there will never be a perfect time. Its easy to make a promise that we have no intention to fill. We never unplug because we never force ourselves to. When we do try, our attempts are half-assed and easily thwarted by the smallest amount of ridicule.

The last time I was alone was last July when I took a motorcycle trip from San Diego, CA up to Red Lodge, MT and back. Sea level to just shy of 11,000ft. A little over 2,600 miles round trip. Granted I stopped through my hometown for the fireworks show and visited some family along the way, but the majority of the days and nights were spent on my own.

I was alone in the sense that no one out on the roads knew me. The roads that I was riding on were fairly remote, only having the occasional driver pass through every couple of hours or so. I was never very far from some form of populated area, but I chose to avoid them. It was just me keeping myself company inside of my helmet.

Whenever I stopped, I never sought out interaction with other people. The occasional fast food employee, a couple of cashiers here, but I limited that as much as possible. It was nerve-racking at first, almost akin to going cold turkey being alone like that. The sensation is so different from what we are used to now that we do not know how to deal with it. I will confess that I was on the verge of a panic attack that first night. Eventually the sound of the rain pattering on my tent coaxed me to sleep. Every night and day after that remained as some of the most peaceful days that I have ever experienced.

The funny thing is that while I never sought out interaction with other people, it did not stop others from trying to do so with me. I am unsure if I exuded some form of nonverbal communication or just seemed that interesting of a person to come up and talk to. I was quite the eyesore going through the middle of Harley Davidson territory on my F800GSA, so maybe that was it. Even though others attempted to make small talk with me along my trip, it was never for very long. I was polite and courteous, but I showed my interest in being alone and wishing to continue on my ride. This aura that I exuded was strange to them and something that they did not fully comprehend.

While I am not condoning becoming a hermit, I personally believe that it is healthy for each and every one of us to get out and be alone for awhile by ourselves. Even from our family, kids, and spouses. Unless you are going out and doing something really daring (extreme sports anyone?) then the only danger to be had is that you will possess a better sense of who you are as an individual. Go be yourself.

A Bowl of Fruit: A Lesson in Inference

I want you to imagine a bowl of fruit. No doubt you have already glanced at a picture, a painting, or an actual bowl of fruit before. Close your eyes and imagine the bananas, the apples, the grapes, the oranges. All the vivid colors held within a plain bowl set atop a sturdy table.

Why would someone take the time and trouble to encapsulate a bowl of fruit? What does it mean? What is its purpose? What is the artist’s intent? All of these questions have purely subjective answers that we each could come up with a million possible ideas of what we each think it means.

On the other hand, when is a bowl of fruit just a bowl of fruit?

This is probably one of my favorite lessons that I remember from school. It was intended to be a lesson to demonstrate how art can mean different things to different people. This was especially useful given that it was band class. The lesson aided the students by developing a shared understanding that interpretations of music can be vastly different on an individual level. That understanding however helped shape a better consensus within the class and allowed us to make better progress on the musical arrangement we were working on.

I took away something a bit more from the lesson. At the end of the discussion, the teacher ended with: “Sometimes a bowl of fruit is just a bowl of fruit.” I have used that term a lot since then and it has taken on its own meaning for me.

Often we make an inference when we do not possess the full picture, only that which is presented before us. With all of the New Age, hippy, mumbo jumbo floating around and the search for the deeper meaning of things we often infer too much. We totally skip Ockham’s Razor and try grasping at shadows that may or may not actually be there. With everything that goes on in life, we are often peeved at the fact that sometimes the answer is simply boring or uninteresting.

While it is uncommon, sometimes things are exactly as they are without any hidden intent. Sometimes a bowl of fruit is just a bowl of fruit…



Sake of the Muse

This Columbus Day weekend I have my parents in town. They are already here as a matter of fact. My life for the next few days is going to be a live reenactment of an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Balancing time for family and time for writing is already proving problematic. Today at work, I had a great idea of what I would write about but instead I am hastily jotting this down at the time I would normally be crawling into bed.

I started working on my first topic idea at 7pm. In the three hours that followed, I could not for the life of me stay focused well enough to do justice to my planned topic. Distractions and interruptions have already permeated with my parents presence. Not that this is a bad thing. I honestly expected it. But how do I work out a balance?

My ideas to go forward from here are this: either get away for a short while, maybe an hour or so, at the nearby Starbucks to get something jotted down or ask for one solid hour of no interruptions. Now that I have written it, Starbucks sounds like the more realistic of the two options.

So here I am, having written half of the average amount of words that I have normally writing for these posts. Just when I was starting to get into the swing of things… Proofreading. Who has time for that before clicking publish?

Understanding Motives

When was the last time you actually paused for a moment and tried to understand someone? Truly understand… I do not mean in the sense of cause and effect; they did [that] for [these reasons]. I mean it in the sense that a person’s actions are a reflection of a cumulative causality based off of their life experiences, their upbringing, their relationships, and what they are exposed to.

Going about our daily lives, the people that we come across are living in their own. The disheveled mother blocking the aisle, the inattentive cashier at the grocery store, the aggressive driver that cut you off in traffic… How often have you paused to think of what is possessing them to act in that way? What drives their story?

“No human being, when you understand his desires, is worthless. No one’s life is nothing. Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins.” – Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

The disheveled mother is fraught with worry on how she is going to take care of everything at home while the husband flushes his paycheck down with alcohol? The inattentive cashier, pondering how he is going to make ends meet this week because he just had to buy a new set of tires in order to make it to work that day? The driver, on his way to the hospital to see a family member for the last time as they lay on their deathbed. We never really know unless we ask. But when do we ask anymore?

To truly understand someone does not excuse them of responsibility for their actions. Understanding is not the right term… Empathy. To feel empathy for their actions… We focus so much on cause and effect relationships that we never attempt to understand the deeper meaning of their actions. To feel empathy for another.

When we fail to understand the motive, we no longer feel empathy towards others.