Tuesday, July 5, 2016

On Relationships

This post comes not on the heels of a date, nor after spending the night with someone, nor after hanging out with friends, or a hike alone with my dog. This post comes on the heels of multiple conversations with friends who are all in the same boat I'm in. This boat just keeps getting bigger, stopping to pick people up along the way.

We are all on our separate journeys. To assume that anyone is on the same journey we are on, is egotistical and unfair to the other people involved. We can be on similar paths. I have a ton of friends who are on a similar path as I, but those paths aren't the same. Some of us are on similar spiritual paths, but very different relationship paths. Some of us are on the same artistic paths, but very different political paths. Some of us are on similar movie-taste paths and vastly different musical-taste paths (no thank you, country music). Not one of us is, or should be, on the same path. There's enough room for all of us.

The journey I'm on involves a lot of people, but I walk it alone. I need to. You need to. This is how we grow. Every single person we meet on this path teaches us something about ourselves and in return we teach them something about them. I'm being taught how to love differently than I've ever loved before. I'm being taught that focusing on me opens doors to other opportunities. I'm being taught that broken hearts take a long time to heal and any relationship (friendship, lovers, business partners, or other) takes time to cultivate. Because we are all walking our own paths. When we meet someone and think, "I want to have a relationship with them (of any sort)," we have to realize that they too are walking and contemplating the direction that this relationship is headed. Our paths cross and sometimes they run parallel to each other, and sometimes (most of the time, I think) they keep going in opposite directions. Maybe those paths will cross again and this time, years later, they run parallel, because now, you've both grown. You've become the person you are today, who is different than the person you were yesterday, and you're able to make that relationship work differently and be more in sync with your life, and their life, today.

These crisscrossing of paths needs to happen naturally and not be forced. As we walk down a trail in the mountains, or on the beach, we can't force a path to cross another path. It's impossible, those paths are already packed into the ground, or the sand. We have to work toward reaching that path. We may veer off to pick a flower, or admire the sunset, but we eventually get back on that path and come to an intersection, followed by another, followed by another. At that point, we can decide to turn down a new path, keep going, or walk a path with someone else. And these paths are happening everywhere at every moment of every day. The kid that bags my groceries (although I go to Winco and bag my own, but that's beside the point) just crossed my path. Do I engage in conversation? Ask him how school is going? And if I do talk to him, we just made a connection, our paths crossed for a brief moment and maybe something I said will keep him motivated to stay in school. Or maybe something he said will make me cry in my car because it hit too close to home that day.

I am lucky enough to have crossed paths with many people. And I am blessed to walk different paths with different people. I think of my group of supportive friends who understand that I'm on a different path than they are. I choose working and school over taking a week to go backpacking in the wilderness. Because that's who I am. That's who they are. And we still love each other. And we are still able to sit together and enjoy the successes that each of us has. We walk similar paths, but we're all on our own separate journey.

Once we can accept that we are different in any relationship, even those of the family type, we have the ability to recognize that we can survive in this world. We may never see eye-to-eye on everything, but that's okay, we are all on our own journey. How we choose to interact with people is on us, how they choose to interact with us is on them. Compassion and understanding go a long way to accepting just how diverse we all are and how we are all walking our own paths. Once we stop forcing the outcome, we can live happier and more free, and enjoy this journey instead of fighting against it every step of the way.

Life changes. Relationships ebb and flow. We have the choice to treat each of these with the care and consideration that they all deserve. Letting things naturally unfold enables growth and prevents us from going mad at the prospect of starting something new with someone. Or rekindling a friendship. I am rekindling. I am starting something new. I am enabling growth in my current relationships. I am growing and becoming me with the aid of the people I know. I hope you do the same. Cross those paths and let whatever happens with them happen. Connections are a beautiful thing.

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