Probably every one of us loves the romantic idea of being independent, of being able to take care of our own, of being free from the nuisance of others, of not needing anyone’s help or anyone’s presence. We can take care of our own without the slightest struggle. We can take pleasure of our own thoughts, imaginations and fantasies anywhere we desire. So who cares about cooperation, relationship and bonding? Individualism is much easier than cooperation. Is it not? So, what do we need others for? Why even bother to think of them?
Suffice it to say, relationship needs cooperation. Relationship cannot exist without cooperation. The trouble is that relationship is often fueled by competitiveness, antagonism, and self-seeking – rather than by sincerity and kindness. Even husbands and wives compete and antagonize each other all for the sake of who knows better or who is right. And yet with this silly competition, they often end up hurting each other’s feelings and become resentful. For some reason, or perhaps because of ego, many of them won’t accept the notion that it’s a whole lot easier to say, “You’re right, dear” and avoid an argument or a fight. Frederick W. Lewis said: “The time to win a fight is before it starts.”
Then there are changes we have to face in a relationship as well as the pain of letting it end and letting it go. But rather than letting go of the past, we often dwell on the circumstances or the person involved, reigniting the pain and frustration, transferring our energy away from today and back to the past. Until we let go of the past, we become one of those people who isn’t happy unless we are miserable. Ironically, many people insist that they feel better in nurturing their angers and grudges with someone who had hurt their feelings. If they believe in forgiveness to heal their soul, they just don’t think it can make them feel better.
Yet we need relationship so we can celebrate, so we can laugh and share jokes, so we can tell our personal stories, so we can love and learn from each other. Do we not? Life without love and laughter is hard to imagine unless you love laughing by yourself. So if we keep ourselves in denial, unable to push away the clouds of doubt, cynicism, fear, worry, envy, grudge, and past disappointments long enough to see what’s hidden in the horizon, we won’t be able to realize, let alone accept the fact that we need each other. So long as we allow yesterday’s painful experiences to dictate present expectations, that’s how long we will limit our ability to love and be loved.
To think is to discover what’s in the head. To share is to discover what’s in the heart. But the truth is - we often don’t know exactly what we think and feel until we share it with another. Relationship gives us the courage and confidence to do that – to share what we think and feel. Certainly, it’s possible to live in isolation, but we can’t flourish as human beings unless we interact with others. And if we insist on building walls instead of bridges, interaction with others ultimately becomes feared rather than favored.
Of course, true happiness, freedom, and peace of mind lie within us. We cannot get them from others; we must find them ourselves. But the willingness to help, to contribute, to cooperate, to participate, or to share what we have, have a way of making it a bit easier to push away the clouds of negative emotions, and discover what’s hidden in the horizon – the door to our inner self. It leads to the path of understanding what we are meant to be, or what we ought to be.
There is a law in psychology that says if you form a picture in your mind of what you’d like your life to be – and if you keep that picture there long enough – you can move in the direction you’re visualizing. I don’t know about you but what I’ve been visualizing these days is not what I’d like my life to be because I’m already satisfied with it, but where I’d like myself to be in the near future – the Smoky Mountains. I can’t wait till I get there. As the song says – “The very thought of it makes my heart sing, like an April breeze on the winds of spring.”
Life is a risk, but only those who will take it. So what do you have to lose? Let’s take the risk and come to the Smoky Mountains for our class reunion on the long Memorial weekend.
The only universal meaning to life that holds true for everyone is that no one’s ever going to get out of it alive. We might as well get on with it, live and have some fun. I don’t know about you but to me, to live – to really be alive – means that you allow yourself to flow with the people and events around you. You don’t confine yourself to any rigid picture of who you are, what the situation should be, how things should be done, or what group of friends, classmates and others to be with. You don’t take yourself or anything else too seriously, and you certainly don’t give too much power to the little things in life. I guess aging and certainly experiences have changed my perspective and tamed my ego. What I used to consider big things or important things in life, I now see them as too little or too unimportant to even bother. Depending on the choices you make, little things in life are all too often the sources of tension, stress and pressure. They can drag your life down, make you unhappy and frustrated.
Quincy Jones, a famed musician and record producer, who survived a brain aneurysm and two brain surgeries in 1974, has this great advice: “Pray for the riches in your life that money can’t buy.” Now here is a good prayer from Peace Pilgrim:
Bring this life into harmony with Divine purpose …. May this life come into harmony with God’s Will. May you so live that all who meet you will be uplifted, that all who bless you will be blessed, that all who serve you will receive the greatest satisfaction. If any should attempt to harm you, may they contact your thought of God and be healed.
To all the mothers out there - Happy Mother's Day!