Each one of us, without exception, has been into some or the other relationship, fundamentally because we are social beings. Some connects are transient while some others last a lifetime. The only constant is the impermanence of all relationships. And when I say impermanent, it does not just mean the end of relationships where people fall apart or die or are forgotten, but even those where they continue to be connected through emotional and social bonds. Yes, relationships are dying and rebirthing all the time.
One of my most striking realisation (though belated) on relationships has come from a Sufi story which is now my talisman for healthy relationships:
You think that because you understand “one” that you must therefore understand “two” because one and one make two. But you forget that you must also understand “and”.
When two or more people come together, their empathic connect (and here, I am reminded of what Dr. Marci calls concordance), creates something bigger than the bundle of emotions the two are, individually. The “and” in the relationship needs to be appreciated and nurtured for the connect to nourish the involved parties. If ignored, the and may peter into an end. It pays to pay heed to “and”, to leverage the opportunity for self discovery at hand.
Why are relationships work? Because the exploration does not stop even after we have understood the “and” and embraced it. You see, the “and” is not inert; it is an active ingredient of any relationship. The more life “and” acquires of its own, watered as it is with love and manured with kingly giving, the more it changes and suffuses the involved beings. Burn and breeze, mellow and mirth, resignation and rise, the cauldron of resonating emotions and motor mimicry sizzles like brimstone with the half-life of bismuth.
How does the process go? A and B may start as individuals, have a celestially governed encounter and find themselves dancing in the crucible called relationship, knowingly or unknowingly. Wisened if one or both are, they start getting a hang of the “+” and the “A+B”. Along the way, the charged-up “+” induces the active ingredients to change into A and B. This necessitates them to have an on-your-feet awareness of the changed me, the changing me and the me in other. And because A has now become A and B is B, the A+B they were trying to make sense of, no longer exists. Now it is about A+B. The “+” affects the transformed twosome, the pink-fresh dyad, in new ways. As if this much change is not befuddling enough, the “+” itself may become reconfigured as “+” to give rise to A+B. And so it goes on.
What to do? Relationships seem to be less about doing, more about being and becoming. As specks in the Universe, we and all kinds of matter and air, as well as our relationships are in constant flux. Change is the essence of life and it throws us around in new situations and aural planes, flushing us into ever-new micro-universes. Is change to be abhorred, avoided, or overcome? You will ‘change’ your outlook to change if you grasp what Dr. Adizes says:
We will stop encountering problems only when there is no more change, and that will happen only when we are dead.
So, let us be alive to change. The moments of connections are all too fleeting, and we can immerse in what is ephemeral only by flowing with it, remaining soaked and submerged in search of the sync. No struggle to win over self or over the other, no posturing to appear strong; giving the relationship one’s all, even in encounters with transitory half-lives. As Y. M. Rinpoche says – be the ash-rope, be all awareness. (With enlightened awareness though, we may find some crucibles worth escaping from. Walk away in such cases.)
Let us feel blessed, tumbling in the effervescent crucible of relationships, in search of meaning, with a yearning for completeness.
Let us choose one another as companions! Let us sit at each other's feet! Inwardly we may have many harmonies - think not That we are only what we see.
The Forty Rules of Love, Elif Shafak (2010)
Enjoy this moment of companionship, or lo it is no longer there!