Day in and day out we all trudge through piles of mud.
Life tests us at every turn, like a never-ending multiple-choice exam.
Our relationships can blow us off our center and, other times, they can bring sparks of joy that seem to brighten the whole universe.
I spent the last 20 years of my life navigating the spiritual waters. Yoga, meditation, reiki, and a long list of disciplines and modalities have helped to shape the human being I am today. Far from perfect, but always in forward motion.
I believe that in nourishing healthy relationships and mending broken ones, we find the fullest expression of who we are and one of the most important spiritual lessons that we are here to learn on this planet. Accepting everyone. Accepting ourselves. And being loving humans.
In theory, this sounds wonderful and inspiring but in reality, it is so damn hard.
Relationships can give us insights and resilience and can teach us to be patient with ourselves and others. They can also, at times, make us bitter, resentful, self-centered, and hopeless when they turn sour.
I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum of relationships. I’ve been the victim, the afflicted one, the one who received the blows, the screams, the punches—literally and physically—but I have also been on the other side. I’ve been the bad guy. Someone who without intent to hurt anyone but simply due to a lack of maturity, experience, or care hurts another person.
Someone who throws punches in the air fighting with the inevitable. Someone whose tantrums thrown at the universe are childish and selfish.
Someone who desperately tries to impose his own views onto others. Someone who loses the big picture and diminishes the other person’s light.
Someone who means well but whose actions sometimes reflect the opposite. Someone who is conflicted. Convoluted. And sometimes doesn’t know how to disentangle himself.
I’ve been an accidental a-hole many times. And none of those times have I ever been proud of it afterward.
In many cases, I was able to solve, heal, transform, and uplift relationships because someone gave me another chance, another opportunity, and didn’t label me as a failure.
Other times, they let me go. They saw no light in my future, no hope for anything good, and they closed a door. There was no favorable resolution or proper farewell—simply two people who came together at one point in time and space and then went separate ways. And I was left with the sadness, frustration, resentment, melancholy, hurt, and the unbearable weight of knowing that I might have crossed a line from which there was no return.
This world has seen enough accidental a-holes and we can all do better when it comes to relationships.
We can start by trying to see ourselves through the other person’s eyes, and also see them for who they are. We can start by opening ourselves and letting ourselves be seen for who we are.
We can start by doing our daily homework of appreciating the little things. We can start by acknowledging the many ways in which others can show us affection. We can start by spending less time in our heads or on our screens and really being in the world, feeling, sensing, tuning in to others.
We can start by seeing each relationship—love, friends, family, work—as an opportunity to make this world a better place. We can start by regarding each other as equals.
Relationships take work. They get better as we get better.
No one said this would be easy. But relationships remind us of who we really are, what we are made of, and ultimately, they can show us what we are here for.