Relationships really matter. Brene Brown reminds us that human beings are hard-wired for connection. It’s why we’re here. But relationships are also damned difficult. It seems to take a lot of practice (and no small number of failures) to have any hope of getting it right.
Relationships are difficult primarily because there are no guarantees. Whether it is a relationship with a child, a partner, or a colleague, real relationship requires profound vulnerability, a certain helplessness, and the acceptance of the fact that there is no path we can follow where we will be untouched by heartbreak and difficulty.
But it is in our willingness to choose to love in spite of all of this that we come to understand the difference between treasuring the presence of another and chaining up their soul. And with that understanding, ironically, comes the possibility for real relationship.
I ran across this poem recently. It was given to someone who works with the terminally ill, and it speaks to this willingness to let go, and to all that is available once we discover the joy of simply being who we are:
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open,
And learn to build all your roads
On today because tomorrow’s ground
Is too uncertain for plans, and futures have
A way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate
Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers,
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong
And that you really do have worth.
Any you learn and learn.
With every good-bye you learn.