Sunday, November 29, 2009

What's love got to do with it

With all of the mindfulness in relationships that I've seen/heard/read lately, it all makes me fully realize that healthy relationships pose all of the lessons for self growth. Any lessons not learned in past relationships, and left unreconciled, will be thrown right back in your face in the next relationship. And, we've all got our own set of lessons to learn in this lifetime. Being in a relationship amplifies the opportunity for self growth.

In a sense, relationships are the new ashram.

Like the Eskimo's many words for 'snow', the word 'love' has a plethora of meanings in our culture -- from the romance of chemistry, to the results of arranged marriages, and all the many layers of Hollywood's silver screen imprints in between -- What's love but a sweet old fashioned notion? With all these nuances and images, lyrics and emotions, do we really know what love is? What does real love look like?

A few years back, I asked this of my therapist at the time: "What's an ideal relationship look like?"

He replied that once a commitment is made the main theme in a healthy relationship should be about personal growth: "I think marriage is a state of firm long-term intention to do our best to be in a mutually supportive relationship, "in sickness and in health." This is how arranged marriages can be so enduring, and romantic marriages so often end in divorce. The fundamental concept also has to do with purpose. If the purpose of marriage is to have the other person make us happy, we are in for a rough ride because they will inevitably disappoint in one way or another. If the purpose of life is the fulfillment of consciousness - and we are intentionally, consciously using marriage as a way to confront and work with our limitations and complex personality structures - we have a chance."

Easier said than done - indeed. No one ever said inner work was a piece of cake, but with the right intention and momentous presence, hopefully you can have your cake and eat it too.

Catch me if you can

"I don't get it," she said. "I've never been asked out. I mean, am I unapproachable? I'm adorable, not a knockout, I can't imagine that would be an issue..."

"It's not that." he said. "You've always been amazingly independent and content with yourself -- both are great qualities, you shouldn't change. But some guys don't know how to even touch that. There's no weak spot."

This subtle revelation made her re-consider, momentarily, the aspect of "the hunt" in which the boys are to lead in this game. Maybe the culture of courtship asks too much of boys to play the instigator? (What happened to Grecian goddess of the same character - that of the huntress complete unto herself? The gods got creative...and great stories were made.) To counteract the imposing nature she apparently aired, she could let any forthcoming beaus know she was interested, but subtly, so as to not create a scene. But then, she had her druthers. She'd rather be pursued, by a confident god.

And all that jazz

What would happen if we looked at relationships through the lens of the jazz-improv model? Something along the lines where one starts playing and the other plays back, and visa versa, in some randomly, off-the-cuff, yet seemingly harmonious way towards composition.

And, perhaps, through this lens, there is a different view of the original note that started it all: "When love hits, just go with it."

to die by your side is such a heavenly way

Not typically an author applied to the workings of strictly human relationships, but a bit apropo:

"Breakdown provokes a space of possibility precisely because things don't work smoothly anymore." - Donna J. Haraway