Lately I’ve been looking at relationships differently that I had previously. At one time I had thought of them as a kind of solid, concrete thing. Like something you could put in your pocket or store on a shelf to be picked up or set down as the situation warranted. But always just there. Now, on the other hand, I’ve begun to see relationships as connections with other people. A bit like the connections in the brain are actually empty spaces between the neurons. But like in the brain which neurons react to other certain neurons can be strengthened or weakened. We feel closer to those who we see and interact with more often or have been through life experiences with. Some are stronger and more vigorous than others. We each live in our own interconnected web of all the connections with the people we know. They each have their own webs as well. The strength of those connections waxes and wanes over time. Sometimes we spend a lot of time and energy maintaining certain connections while neglecting others. It’s a natural part of life.
Change and impermanence are inevitable. It’s rarely easy or comfortable to deal with changes, but part of living in the world is doing so. They are going to come whether you are ready for them or not. People come in to our lives and others leave. Connections with some people get stronger while others weaken or change. None of it is easy. But being a human isn’t easy. And no one who wasn’t lying said it would be. I don’t know much about martial arts, but I know that in certain styles of fighting the techniques rely on using an opponent’s force to your own advantage. I think life is a bit like that. The tendency of things to change as the eternal foe. We know the hit is going to come sooner or later in some form. We can stand solid like a brick wall and attempt to resist the inevitable, causing ourselves endless amounts of pain, or we can see life for how it really is and attempt to roll with those hits of change.
Talking abstractly like this makes it sound easy. I know that it’s not. But acknowledging reality is the first step. If a loved one gets cancer wailing that life isn’t fair won’t make anyone’s time any easier. Strengthen that connection with the person while you still can. Acknowledge the situation you are both in and ease your own suffering by easing theirs in whatever way you can. I’ve had a lot of connections change over the past few years, some I’ve even lost entirely. And just recently a very important one changed significantly. I have to think it was for the best for both of us in this moment. I don’t want either of us to have or cause each other more suffering that we need to. I hope to maintain and strengthen this connection in different ways than before, and that’s okay. It might not have turned out how I ultimately hoped, but what we want often doesn’t match up to the details of reality.
The Greek letter delta (Δ) is often used as a short hand for change in science and math. Thinking about how it’s used made me think about how change is integral to nearly any system. Our own biology wouldn’t work as a static thing. We exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen in our lungs. Countless chemical reactions happen all throughout our bodies every second. It would be just as fruitful to tell my lungs to stop exchanging gasses as it would to lament that my life continues to change. Holding on to a moment for longer than that moment takes to pass will inevitably cause pain. Better to recognize a good moment when it occurs while realizing that it’s only a moment, not a state of being to hold on to.