When did relationships find their way into the disposable category?
Increasingly, it seems that more and more in the western culture has become disposable.
I feel it may have all started to downward spiral when we began looking at a part of our income as “disposable income.” The part of our earnings that we could spend on whatever luxury we so desired in that moment. This portion of our income became something that we didn’t need, but instead, something that we wanted. Something that we could attain and then get rid of, and use in whatever way we desired.
And then at some point, our human relationships developed similar energetics around them.
We started to see our connections with each other as a “want,” rather than a necessity. And at the same time, they somehow became disposable.
With so many people in the world, we seem to have developed an attitude that there will always be someone else around the corner. And it’s true, there will be. But just because there is someone else around the corner, doesn’t mean that we should take our connections with each other so lightly.
Personally, when I meet someone that I really connect with, I want to learn all about them. I want to slowly and deeply become intimate with what makes them smile, what makes them frown, what makes them curious, what makes them jump for joy, and what makes tears roll down their beautiful cheeks. I like to see these connections for what they truly are—a blessing and a miracle that two souls could share such deep intimacy.
For me, that’s not something that I feel comfortable just tossing aside. A human heart and soul connection is something to be cherished. Something to be deeply respected. Something to be honoured in its entirety.
When did we start finding it so easy to toss these connections so easily into the wind? When did we stop honouring the human soul as a precious gift? When did it become so easy to say goodbye? Or sometimes not even say goodbye, just turn around and walk the other way.
Did it all start sliding this way when the online shopping craze ignited? When we realized we could endlessly “window browse” for everything and everyone? Online dating has exploded in the past decade or two making it virtually possible to meat..whoops, I mean meet hundreds of potential partners every night.
Has our quest for “non-attachment” led us to become disenchanted with holding something near and dear to our heart? Like a person?
Are we all just looking at people and relationships the same way we’re looking at the cardboard tray our take-out poutine comes in? You know, it serves a great purpose at the time it’s needed to fulfill our desire for instant taste bud & belly gratification, but once that desire has been fulfilled, well, we can just toss it into the compost…there’ll be another takeout container next time we want poutine!
Obtain. Consume. Toss.
I’ve chosen another way to live.
Yes, it’s true. I’m not perfect and sometimes I still toss a takeout container in the compost, but the difference in that action now as compared to 10 years ago, is that now I’m actually thinking about that container and feeling grateful for the purpose it served.
And I have to say, that 10 years ago, I also had a tendency to toss relationships away without much thought…nah, this isn’t working, I’ll just move on, it’s easier. And now, just like with the takeout container, if I am walking away from a relationship, I’m doing so with a lot of thought and a lot of gratitude for what it offered me when it was actively a part of my life.
But to be completely honest, about five years ago, I chose to consciously carry re-usable takeout containers with me. My main goal when starting this practice was to reduce the waste in my life—to ease up my ecological footprint just a wee little bit. But what it has turned into is something even greater. Lessening the amount of disposable items in my life has created within me, a whole new relationship to the concept of “throw-away” & “disposable.” I no longer see anything in life as something that can be tossed away without a second thought about how that action is going to impact the rest of my life.
I’ve carried these learnings with me into my relationships—choosing deliberately and consciously who comes into my inner world of love and intimate living. Every man I’ve opened my heart to has been a man that I felt I’d never want to throw away. I’ve chosen men that I’ve been able to see to the depths of their being, and still love them unconditionally through all the joyful lightness and dark shadowy storminess.
I’ve been disposed of a few times in the last few years…I don’t take it personally. (Well, I have been known to take it personally at the immediate time that I’m being tossed into the compost pile, but have been able to step away from my egoic reaction into a place of acceptance quite quickly.) I take it as a moment to reflect again upon my own relationship with disposability and strengthen my commitment to living a life of non-disposabilty.
It’s gotta be pretty broken beyond any form of repair for me to toss it—and even then, sometimes it’s just being asked to be re-created in an artistic and creative way—reformed into something yet to be imagined.
I can’t count the times I’ve said “I don’t think this is over…I’m pretty sure there is more for us here,” because, so often, there has been. Some people might see that as a lack of ability to let things go. I see it as a willingness to find a solution to every problem and a new spark of life to every “death.”
Maybe it’s just a pattern dying in the relationship. Maybe it’s something deep that is asking to be healed from both sides of the equation—something that is going to result in a deeper connection between the two of us.
I know when to let go, but it’s gotta be a really strong feeling that takes over my whole being, a strong knowing that there is no taking this any further. I’ve looked at all the angles and come to a strong conclusion that there is no re-purposing, there is no art to be made, it’s been used up to the completion of its life cycle…and then I can let it go—with gratitude and peaceful knowing that not all things are designed to last forever.
I have a bit of request to the rest of the world that’s still in the midst of treating each other as disposable objects—the request it simple: please fellow humans, can we all start treating each other as the precious unique beings that we are?
If we’re going to pick something up, can we please make sure it’s something we really want, and know that we’re not going to toss it aside when the next best model becomes available or we grow tired of it? Can we take our time to choose wisely and lovingly the next person we share our hearts with?
Let’s promise to be committed to our own inner work and the inner workings of the relationship, because we recognize the beauty of two souls sharing the precious ability to grow alongside each other, helping each other shine.
Author: Morgan Leigh Callison
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Caleb Ekeroth/Unsplash