From my “This I Believe” submission in 2006. Didn’t make the cut with NPR, and it’s a from a while back, but still holds a lot of truth for me.
I believe in relationship.
With people and places, experiences and emotions, plants and animals; with old shirts, ball-caps, music, writing and cooking. I’ve searched for it in all endeavors, and have only been really satisfied with an experience when I’ve managed to secure a foothold, a rapport with the people and things around me.
I’m relatively sure that I can’t be alone in the feelings I have associated with this idea: connecting with the temporal world we live in. As I reach middle age, however, I’m very certain that I’m more sensitive than most when it comes to the practice. For me it means survival, success, and inner peace.
Whether it’s the first time or only time, meeting someone, or visiting with a friend I’ve known all my life, I always am in flux until I’ve felt the sense of that certain comfortable something that tells me I’m connected to the other. For me relationship is the way to get the most out of the present and is a primer for the future.
On the grade school playground, in the many classrooms of my life, the wrestling room, football field, committees, the fraternity, the swimming pools of summers past, teaching swimming, then later teaching English to Soviets. In Santa Clara, in Moscow, in Rivas Nicaragua, Beijing, Florence or Munich or Hong Kong, in South San Francisco, Sunnyvale, or Morgan Hill, all the experiences in all those places have become worthwhile to me only and ultimately through relationship.
Like most everyone I’ve had my share of successes and failures. I’ve tried to learn what I can from all of them, tried my best to savor the successes; persevere and even gain something through the failures. I am certain that it’s been my relationship with both the good and the bad that has solidified my attitude toward both.
I recently went through a divorce. I only reached a sense of peace and acceptance of the loss through the support of the many good people that let me share the experience with them, relate with them, and thereby process my complicated thoughts and feelings. It was also only by reaching a new, truer relationship with my ex-wife that I was able to find closure in the marriage ending, and begin a promising, connected relationship with someone new.
When I consider this attitude juxtaposed to my faith, it all makes even more sense to me: connecting with others, befriending others, helping others. God in all things and in all people. My relationship with the world around me strengthens my sense of proper path, somehow brings me a bit closer to the Divine.
I believe in relationship. It is the surest indicator of my place in time and space on this Earth, speeding along with everyone else toward the most we can get from life.