Our world is suffering. Natural disasters are everywhere and still there is war as well.
Human beings are demonstrating the extremes of human connection. On one end of these extremes, people stretch their hearts and financial and physical abilities to help victims of hurricanes and earthquakes. At the other extreme, world leaders rip into one another and threaten to drag us all into nuclear war.
What? Really?! We need to connect, to find safety and comfort in one another. Now more than ever. The definition and value of intimacy have been studied from many viewpoints. The common conclusion is that intimacy is an important part of our jphysical, emotional, mental happiness and well-being.
The key to intimacy, of course, is understanding what it really is and nurturing it in your own life. This topic is beautifully explored in the book The Art Of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. Chapter 5 is titled A New Model For Intimacy. In the last few pages of this chapter the author’s right the following:
Clearly, the notions we take for granted about intimacy are not universal. They change over time and are often shaped by economic, social, and cultural conditions.
… at this very moment we have a vast resources of intimacy available to us. Intimacy is all around us.
Today, so many of us are oppressed by a feeling of something missing in our lives, intensely suffering from a lack of intimacy. This is particularly true when we go through the inevitable periods in our life when we are not involved in a romantic relationship or when the passion wanes from a relationship. There’s a widespread notion in our culture that deep intimacy is best achieved within the context of a passionate romantic relationship–that Special Someone who we set apart from all others. This can be a profoundly limiting viewpoint, cutting us off from other potential sources of intimacy, and the cause of much misery and unhappiness when that Special Someone isn’t there.
If what we seek in life is happiness, and intimacy is an important ingredient of a happier life, then it clearly makes sense to conduct our lives on the basis of a model of intimacy that includes as many forms of connection with others as possible. The Dalai Lama’s model of intimacy is based on a willingness to open ourselves to many others, to family, friends, and even strangers, forming genuine and deep bond is based on our common humanity.
In about seven months, I will have been single for the same number of years that I was married…25. I didn’t plan to remain single but this is how my life has unfolded and I am grateful for my family and friends, students past and present, and others that I made along the way like the woman who checked me out at the grocery store. I have never lacked for intimacy and I experience it on many different levels. I also am aware of a whole other kind of intimacy that comes when I am out in nature. Even watching the birds and squirrels my tiny backyard brings me a sense of connectedness and oneness. I never feel alone when I’m in nature.
My invitation to each of you today is to think about these things and be lovingly and compassionately honest with yourself. Seek the connectedness that you need and wonderful, healthy ways. Be aware and appreciate the people in your life. If you’re an animal lover, you already know about that level of intimacy! Take that wonderful admonition from the 60’s to heart and “hug a tree!”
True those things in your life that nurture you in return.
You are not alone.
You are all-one… just spell it differently 😉