I have a European friend who has appeared here before, Lukas. Like myself, Lukas has carved out a space for himself so that he can enjoy being skyclad outdoors when the weather is cooperative, a point he made recently with this photo which was about celebrating the return of sunshine.
But, as we all know, there can’t always be sunshine in our lives. Day and night, winter and summer – you can’t have one without the other in the temperate regions of our world. There can’t be light without darkness, and with light, there is always a shadow. I think there are a few who would like to debate this point, but it would be a futile effort.
Relationships are no different. I know people who would protest that their relationship is exactly that, perfect. Both agree on everything, both are at the same developmental point in the lives at the same time. And there there are others who would protest that there is no light at all in their relationships, that all is darkness. Again, there can’t be joy unless there is also the absence of joy in a relationship.
When everything is always the same, the sense of self and other disappears. Too much darkness, and relationship suffers. Too much light, and relationship suffers. And, that goes for relationships between friends and acquaintances in real space and cyberspace.
Would it be better to avoid relationship rather than find oneself entangled in the constant negotiation as two people carve out their individual spaces as well as their together spaces in a relationship that in physiological, psychological, and outer world relationships and spaces? Simple answer – No! We can choose to live solitary lives to an extent. But even with that we find ourselves in different kinds of relationships with others; not intimate relationships, but rather contacts which are less intrusive, more fleeting. We need to engage in the hard work of relationship simply to remain psychologically, and even physiologically, healthy.
We need “others” to actually discover ourselves. And that is where even contact via the Internet comes to have value. Our words are not for just the others we speak to with text messages. They are there for us to see, hear, and register – sometimes surprising us in the process. The responses of others teach us even more about ourselves if we are open enough to hear their words. Besides the words, there are the images we send out of ourselves, others, and of our world, as well as the things that have meaning – both positive and negative – for us. The images we are given in return tell us about the others and their understanding about the kind of relationship that has grown because of the interactions.
I am indebted to friends such as Lukas who have invited me into their lives, even though that invitation is limited because of geography. Friendship is a vital part of one’s need for relationship.