Relationships are complicated.
There’s a deep part of the human soul that is endlessly longing to connect with and relate to other people. We need each other—there’s just no getting around it. Love is just as essential to us as oxygen. Though, it seems like close relationships are often harder to maintain than my old 1992 Buick Century—and that thing was one hell of a clunker.
Relationships are complicated because people are complicated, simple and plain. We have too much going on inside of our hearts and minds to navigate intimate relationships without stumbling upon the ghosts of our past. For those who think human nature is glossy and pristine, take a look at our relationships and you’ll find a completely different story.
What is strange for me is that it all makes sense on paper. Why can’t two people with similar values and shared love for each other live together in harmony? It sounds pretty cut and dry in theory, be we can never account for all of the unknown variables in a relationship—and with human beings, there are plenty of those. We’re made up of unknown variables, for godsakes.
I think the biggest misconception about relationships that leads to them falling apart is how fragile they actually are to begin with. When we get comfortable in a relationship, we can’t possibly grasp how fleeting and circumstantial it all is. It’s only when we meet someone for the first time—or when things are already going to sh*t—that we can really see how much unknown territory there is in the other person (and also in ourselves). The underlying chaos of human relationships is on full display in those few moments, and we forget how easily one thing could slip up and all of that unresolved chaos can rise to the surface and drown out all good intentions.
Relationships are fragile and require constant attention. People are always changing—and the dynamics between people are always changing. We all have a fair share of emotional baggage and childhood trauma floating around our quivering minds, and that energy is always looking to express itself—in not the healthiest of ways. We’re just these balls of energy that really want love, but are too scorched with pain and suffering to always get the love that we desperately need. What I’m saying is: care must be taken.
It’s a good idea never to get too comfortable in our relationships—to always remember that there is an ocean of chaos just beneath the surface. We never really know anyone, not even ourselves. We can’t expect our partner to be the same person down the line, and we certainly can’t expect ourselves to be the same. Life is always moving and changing. It’s actually really beautiful to recognize the fragility of our relationships—and the fragility of human life in general. We are more connected with the novelty of the universe when we are aware of how ephemeral our lives really are.
So many of us are asleep at the f*cking wheel. That’s what most of our problems boil down to, really. We are not aware of what’s happening because of our crazy monkey minds. When those important moments come, we’re so worn down by neurotic thoughts that we can’t be present enough to step up to the plate.
I can only think of one solution to this: to make ourselves aware of the present moment itself. When we are aware of the simple fact that we’re alive—that we’re breathing, and our heart is beating in real time—is when we can truly capture the fragility of our lives and our relationships.
When chaos emerges, we are there to confront it—without fear or trepidation.
Try this little exercise, and see if you can actually hear the silence from which all sounds come. Pay attention to the gaps between sounds, that vast unmanifested space that gives voice to the universe. See if you can actually hear what nothingness sounds like. When we listen to silence, we step into the present moment.
The truth is that we never really know anyone; and the more we understand that fact—then oddly enough, the better feel we’ll have of another. That’s what makes human connection so beautiful—the great unknown. These are magical beings walking around every day, and there’s so much to what makes them up that it’s actually unbelievable. It’s such a mistake to only focus on our similarities, because oftentimes the differences are unimaginably more interesting.
Here’s the deal—let’s step into the present moment, make ourselves aware of the fragility of human relationships, and act in accordance with the fleeting nature of human life. We must know ourselves to know others—and the more we know, the more we realize we don’t know. Stay in that neutral point between stimulus and response, because that’s where our lives really unfold.