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Experiencing relationships as oceanic

01/03/2020
Andrew Outhwaite

I’m studying and giving more attention to the nature of relationships. The ocean is my dominant metaphor. I share a love for the sea with a new friend and at times used words like oceanic, wavy, deep, still and unfathomable to describe the relationship. Reading David Deida’s ‘Blue Truth’ during the relationship reinforced this blue theme.

Now, reflecting on the first three weeks’ of a course on the “Transforming Your Experience of Relationship” the ocean metaphor is there again. I’ve used it to try and illustrate some of the facts and my reflections.

That I relate, to something or another is significant. I am choosing to experience myself as a separate solid object, like an iceberg, and perhaps them too. I could choose to relate to anyone or anything else other than them, or nothing at all. The fact of the choice, to relate to them, in this way, especially if held as meaningful and repeated, is significant.

I can simply notice the truth of who I choose to relate to. I also notice how I choose to experience them, as different to me, superior, inferior, or as though a different beast altogether: I’m like an octopus, you’re like a shark. What does that mean for me, how do those relationships hold me, and do I want to be in different relationships?

In relating my experience / actions / thoughts / feelings to another, I have some model of what those things are and what’s occurring for them. I can notice, inquire, intuit what’s going on for them, the pattens, assumptions, logic and motivation that drive their observable behaviour.

I’ve given less less attention to emotions and their sources and more attention to identity, logics, concepts. In not attending to how they or I are moved to express that feeling means I’ve sort of ‘missed’ a lot of experience and communication. I’ve been somewhat selective, compartmentalised and limited by may own models and that’s limited my ability to get another’s whole experience. Really getting another’s experience isn’t selective, a strategy or tactic. Effective relating can only occur when I have an experience of the others experience. That means training myself to fully feel all of the reactions, emotions, sensations and hear all that’s being communicated without bias or attributing cause. Relating, empathically, compassionately can’t, in the first instance, be ‘selective’.

And, actually I can get another’s experience wholly. I can drop my position as separate and simply get their experience. It will feel different, but if really gotten will be ‘mine’.

I notice I can only get one experience at a time. Experiencing ‘theirs’ as ‘mine’ points to an interesting fact of the choice I make in identification. Who am I?

That we are relating at this time is interesting. Man forces and factors are at play beyond our individual intention and action. While the desire to stay in relationship may be reciprocal, the commitment may not be strong enough or conditions conducive so that it’s improbable or impossible.

Sometimes it’s a mystery, miracle and at other times a deliberate choice or product of swiping selectively through software to find myself intersecting with another’s trajectory.

Who we choose to relate to is who we choose to relate to. Not being in relation, identified as separate is possible. And, actually as a human: I am only here because of the generosity of others, my existence is only meaningful in the context of human culture and I only exist as an identified individual relative to my social relations. And, there is choice there, who and how I relate to. Those choices and relationships affect my experience.

At times I’ve deliberately chosen to dramatically change my geographic location, social circles, activity patterns or online behaviour that’s completed altered my sense of identification. It’s obvious now, as are the implications, for contraction, expansion, life trajectory and identity of moving from London to Geraldton, not staying in touch with friends internationally, deciding not to be on Facebook, taking up climbing etc.. Conscious choices lead to changes in the meaning I make of my existence, who I am in relation, and what’s probable and possible to do and be in relation to other humans.

People can be on, or want to be on different or similar wavelengths. They may moderate each other, amplify each other, or clash rhythmically in a patten of complex seas and cross-currents that’s hard work to swim against. Some people love calm waters, others big waves, others constantly variable conditions. Depends what you are up for.

These illustrations and reflections are useful. To be noticed as always true. And that they depend on a particular conception of oneself. Am I a frozen iceberg, a fluid drop, an ocean, deep blue infinity, or fluidity itself?

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