Life may be many things, but more than anything else, life is relating. If we don’t relate, we don’t live. It’s all relative to our attitude, whether positive or negative. The minute we relate, we live. When we are in destructive relationships, we are heading for a climax that is ultimately going to do away with the destructiveness. Kaboom. Further down the scale is the lackluster relationship that fizzles under a guise of false serenity. So even someone who relates negatively is living more than one who relates little. And absolutely no one relates not at all—for then they wouldn’t be alive.
We tend to only associate the word “relationship” with interactions with other human beings. But the word applies to absolutely everything, including ideas as well as inanimate objects. It also applies to our life circumstances, the world we live in, and our thoughts and attitudes. We can relate to lots of things, and to the degree we do so we will enjoy a sense of fulfillment rather than frustration.
It’s enormous, the scale of possibilities for relationship. Lowest on the totem pole is the mineral. You may think it can’t relate at all, but that’s not true. Since it lives, it relates. But because it’s a mineral, it can’t relate very much. Its way of relating is confined to total passivity. A mineral can be admired. An animal, by contrast, has a lot more moxie. It actively responds to nature, to other animals and to people.
Humans are highest on the scale of able-to-relate, which is a wider scale than most of us realize. The bottom rung of the human scale starts with the completely insane—the one in solitary confinement or who is locked up behind bars. These two aren’t so very far apart. They are living lives in inner and outer isolation, hardly able to relate to other people. Since such people are living, they must somehow continue to relate, but it is mostly to things, their space, their food, their bodies and maybe some art, or ideas or nature. It can be helpful to think about life from this perspective.
On the highest rungs of the ladder are the folks who are able to relate beautifully. They aren’t afraid of becoming deeply involved with others and don’t protect themselves against experiences or feelings. Also, they are able to love. They let themselves love. And in the end, loving requires a willingness and readiness to do so.
At this level, people are willing to love regardless of risk. They can love abstractly or concretely, and generally or personally. This doesn’t make such people saints or holier than thou. They may well be far from perfect. They will have faults and be wrong at times. And they have those pesky negative emotions too. But on the whole, they love. They aren’t afraid to get involved. Freed from their defenses, they are able to ride through occasional setbacks and have full and fruitful relationships.
So what about the rest of us who are somewhere in the middle—the average Jane or Joe?
Listen and learn more.