And The Power of The Relational
A lot of times when you ask people how they are, they tell you they are “Busy”. Busy is not how you are, it is how you are not. My thoughts are my friends. They are my best friends. When I am busy, I cannot hear my thoughts. I don’t like being busy for this reason. I appreciate so much the blessings of being present in my life. Every moment I try and engage with just what is going on around me; my thoughts are centred around what I am doing in the here and now, and the things that naturally radiate from that. For instance, I might be making a recipe, and that will lead my thoughts to shopping I need to do, of work I need to complete, of people I need to contact. When I am trying to do too much, too many thoughts come crowding in, and I lose that thread, that connection to the moment, which is where I find my bliss.
A couple of years ago, I went through a stressful period and one of the things that helped me navigate this turbulent overhaul of my life was breaking down what was really essential to my happiness, and what I could let go of. By prioritising the things that were very important to me, I managed to stay sane, but to achieve that from that place of drowning not waving, I had to get really clear about what my priorities were. At one point, I was in a phase where I really wouldn’t do anything I didn’t absolutely have to do, unless it felt completely right. I was fully checking in on myself and making sure every decision I made I was committed to, and if not, I wouldn’t take action. The stress has passed, thankfully, and I don’t need to be so ruthless with my time at this moment, but it is a habit I have learned to come back to in times of overwhelm. Just recently, I have found myself answering the “How are you?” question with the dreaded word, “Busy”, and feeling inwardly disappointed in myself for being that kind of a person.
Busyness is a really a form of fear. It’s a way of covering up what we are really thinking and feeling, a masking strategy. Busyness is adrenaline keeping us on our toes, worried about what will descend on us if we stop. To be effective in our lives we need to come from that place of feeling good that I was so deeply tapped into when things were stressful. Now I see that period as anchoring me into a deeper flow state. My default when things get difficult is not to look for ways to fix things, it to look for ways in which I can allow myself to feel good despite seeming obstacles to my happiness. If I can fix myself, then the things can fix themselves. I have done some really interesting interviews this year, but most recently the one with Lynne McTaggart sparked some clarity. We are all superconductors, electrical beings receiving and sending out signals, transmitting stations if you like. The more clear and strong signal the better the universe responds. Busyness is an impediment to being a strong signal and yet in our temporal digital age it can feel next to impossible to maintain an organic pace. Paradoxically, it’s our rush to find happiness and fulfillment that is the barrier to lasting happiness and fulfillment.
I believe that the future is relational. We are witnessing the peak of individualism, where everyone is getting their 15 minutes of fame, everyone has the ability to place themselves fair and square at the centre of their own universe, and shout about how it looks from there. It’s pretty exhausting, both individually and societally, but it’s healthy because it demands that we examine our stories and take control of our narratives. We are part of a shift, which I like to define as moving from the objective to the subjective: no longer are we bound by the idea that there is one single objective truth, an ideological black and white, but instead we understand that each of us has an alternate perspective on life, and not just that those perspectives are valid, but that they can co-exist, and we are enriched not diminished by this allowing of multiple points of view. As we begin to use this understanding to rewrite our collective narrative, we discover that the relational is a far more rewarding and fulfilling approach to life than the individual. Where the emphasis is not on, what is my identity and how do I project that onto you, but what is the relation between us, and how does understanding that enhance our human experience. From the relational, we come to the inter-relational, that is the realization that we are all one, a singular organism, and experiencing that unity is actually the greatest fulfillment that humans can experience.
I can’t do social media enthusiastically at the moment, and I won’t say that it isn’t partly because the algorithms have taken a lot of the fun out of it, but it’s mostly because I’ve lost the impulse to tell people what I think. I wrote last year here about how, as a writer, that’s been quite upsetting: from writing a book a year, every year, for the past decade or so, as well as posting twice weekly on my website, in 2018 I wrote just one single article. It’s been disorienting, losing this drive to share my thoughts publicly, but in the world that we currently inhabit, it’s privacy that feels like the privilege. I still have strongly held ideas and beliefs, and I still feel, arrogant as it may be, that the world would be a better place if people took more of my perspectives on board. But the drive now is not to share them in an objective way as I did when I was writing books and in the earlier days of the Internet (here is my writing, listen to me, and that’s the end of the exercise as I may well never meet you or learn your reactions to me); but through relational means: here is my food, how does it make you feel? Here is some music, here is a conversation, how do these things bring us together and how do they help us experience the unification that we crave?
Please don’t be busy this Christmas. Please slow down, as this time of year demands. Please remember your humanity, don’t be afraid of the darkness, embrace its power and its ability to create renewal. Remember that we are all one, and this time of year more than any other is about extending compassion out to all human beings and not anaesthetising ourselves off from the pain and suffering of the world with the drug of consumerism.
And for 2019, I wish, please don’t use busy as an adjective for how you are. Please take time to connect with your feelings, your processes, to stop seeing yourself simply as an objectifiable commodity, and to accept the fallibility of humanity as something wonderful. Eat organic food, play records or even better go see live music, do yoga, spend time with trees and plants and animals, settle into a more natural rhythm than the hyper-stimulated simulation that forces itself onto us daily, and create room in your life for more authenticity, joy and wonder. Remember while you’re dancing, about who you’re dancing with, and leave space for meaningful people and situations to enter instead of filling up every last iota of your being with the dross of the day.