Saturday, April 4, 2009

THERE IS AN "I" IN SPECIAL

I was talking on the phone to a very dear and close friend of mine the other day. We were talking about how each of us felt that our relationship is "special" and my friend, in particular, was remarking that, of all the people she knows (besides her children), I am the most special and she feels closest to me. As she spoke, I was thinking about how that sort of feeling comes about and wondering why my friend feels that she has it only with me and not a wide assortment of people. It seem to me that sharing a genuine and deep love with another human being is a great thing to do and I, for one, want as much of that in my life as I can manage. I also reflected on the fact that I have several people in my life that I feel deeply connected to and wondered what was responsible both for the difference in how many intimate relationships I and my friend have as well as the why in my own life I have some people that I feel extremely close to and others to whom I don't.

While my friend wanted to ascribe the specialness of our relationship to her belief that I am an extraordinarily loving and giving person and she feels very loved by me, I am always wary of explanations that disempower the individual by assigning causality to someone or something outside oneself. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely do believe that I am a kind and loving man and an extraordinary friend, but it just didn't make sense to me that I alone could be the cause of this wonderful thing in her life. I felt that she had to be doing something to create this relationship for herself as each of us live in a universe fabricated of our own make-believes and their resulting actions. Looking over everything I have learned about my friend during the course of our friendship I searched for the creator in her that was taking action to build a beautiful experience of connection and shared love with me.

Then it hit me - Part of what my friend has shared with me is that she feels she can be more herself with me, without editing, modifying or watering down who she is than with anyone else she knows. I realized that in the context of her relationship with me she had given herself permission to be more herself than anywhere else in her life. Consequently she has shared more of herself more openly than ever before. So it makes sense that we have connected more deeply and completely than in any other relationship she has built for herself. What's more, the sheer unbridled joy of so freely and unreservedly venturing out into the world and luxuriating in the back and forth play of this dance of growing connection and love feels so damn great that I can't conceive of how that wouldn't feel "special".

Following this line of thought, I started thinking about my own life and my own relationships and I realized that this holds true for me. Over the past two years or so I have both formed many new and cherished friendships and significantly overhauled existing relationships with those closest to me. The basis for this flurry of activity was a decision on my part to be as authentic as I can and stop worrying about how others will react or whether they will approve of me or my actions. While I am still only applying this principle to specific areas of my life (in other areas I lie rather frequently and can be breathtakingly inauthentic), in those relationships where I have followed through on my new belief that authenticity is the best way to go I have been repeatedly astounded by the results I got. In those relationships where I have made it a point to be myself no matter what I have formed deeply satisfying and nourishing friendships based primarily on how much I have put into the friendship, not on what the other person has provided. And in those of my pre-existing relationships where I have done this I have seen growth, change and a resurrection of the love that originally made those relationships "special".

So naturally I find this all very exciting. It seems that we have the power within ourselves to create beauty and joy in the way we relate to others if we are willing to muster the courage to really dive in and believe that it's not necessary to hold back, it's always safe to be just exactly who you are. And since we are creating that experience for ourselves, there's no need to wait around hoping that just the right person will come along and befriend us.

So, do you want to give it a try? Who with? When? And, if you can do it a wide variety of people, how many do you think you can handle before you max out? More to the point, what if there is no maximum limit?

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