Reflection 23: Evolving Relationships

November 14, 2008

(Copyright © 2008)

Relationships are anything but static. In fact change often keeps them going. They are not meant to remain forever the same. Consciousness thrives on novelty and adventure. Sameness puts us to sleep. We are most alive when dealing with situations that interest us because we are invested in them. Without interest—z z z z z z z. We are all interested in love. Here’s what I wrote on that topic in my write-up of the same hike I dealt with in my last blog, (Reflection 22: Relationships):


Love is one of the greatest mysteries in any relationship. We know people become attracted to each other in such a way that acquaintance blossoms into friendship and, when desire conquers fear, into the more intimate stages of love. We do not know what starts the progression, or sustains its development. Why these two people out of millions? Why now? Why here? We come up with star-[matched] love and fatal attractions, but those are metaphors, not explanations. My hunch is that place draws people together. Lovers are active expression of their place on Earth. They stand somewhere, rising from ancient roots, living proof that their lineage is successful, and they are ready to commit themselves to the continuation of their lines into the future. Love flows not from the heart but from the Earth. From the springs of beauty, health, promise, and success. When two people come together as particular expressions of Earth’s bounty and ongoing creativity, they lay the foundation of the future, not just for themselves or their habitats, but for the next stage in the unfolding of the great universal adventure. Without the dimension of place, couples represent only themselves as motes entangled in air. The word “casual,” as in casual encounters, casual conversation, and casual sex, hints at the missing element of commitment to place. If this commitment is not part of a relationship, the coming together of two people is an accident of two desires rubbing against each other for fleeting gratification. Partners who endure represent more than themselves. They are Earth embracing Earth, place embracing place, life embracing life.


Each of us becomes an agent for our placement in life. We let our genes do the talking. Our life worlds, then, open onto scenes or situations peopled by other agents, objects, props, scenery—all viewed from our perspective, all seen in relationship one to another. This is the phenomenal world which constitutes our consciousness moment by moment as such situations change and develop into stories or, when conceptualized, scenarios. All consciousness emerges from the perspective of the self, is situational in nature, and flows along like a river or storyline. We are eager to find out—and to live—what happens next as the situation unfolds in awareness.


Through language, we give voice to situations as we experience them from our points of view. Prepositions, by definition, are relational: from, to, in, on, by, over, through, across, under, near, and so on. Conjunctions are relational: and, for, or, both, either, before, until, while. Subjects or agents acting on other agents or objects are demonstrably relational through verbs depicting specific actions: hit, take, move, cry, tell, hold, share. Adverbs modify the description of such actions: slowly, carelessly, deliberately, repeatedly, relentlessly, lovingly. Even conceptual nouns are situational in being evoked by particular sensory phenomena as being relevant to a situation unfolding in consciousness. Their reference is not to the outside world or to memory itself, but to the situation the speaker/writer actively holds in awareness because it interests her and arouses her feelings and attention at the moment.


As that moment of attention leads on to another, the situation develops, and consciousness follows along, eager to see what happens next. The motivated self or point of view brings up a situation in consciousness, which soon changes into a different situation, and then evolves into a situation with a history heading in a certain direction—thus becoming a story (or joke, episode, paragraph, song, opera, painting, and so on).


Each of the postings I include in this blog is a reflection of my state of consciousness as I piece it together at my computer. I set Reflection 20: Nothing on My Mind to post at 6:00 a.m., Friday, November 7. The night before, I woke in the middle of the night regretting two words I had added at the last minute. I felt they opened up side channels which distracted from the flow of the piece. I got up at 6:00 and deleted those two words. Reading that reflection through, I find it flows in fourteen paragraphs like a rushing river through, more-or-less in order:


  • cargo cults
  • shepherds watching their flocks at night
  • progression of the seasons
  • rural activities dependent on seasonal floods
  • uses of the calendar
  • angel messengers in the heavens
  • removal of social authority to urban areas
  • the idea of supreme beings
  • outer limits of concept formation
  • emptiness of absolute concepts
  • consequences of monotheism
  • the hollowness of supremacy, all leading to
  • the powerful abusing the consciousness of the weak.


That’s quite a story. All told from my perspective on a natural situation evolving over time into a modern cultural situation with a long and complicated history in human consciousness. Each generation lives only one episode, so cannot fully grasp the big picture. But if we seek them out, we can retrieve many of the separate episodes and piece them together. Which is what I tried to do in Reflection 20, giving not just the current state of affairs, but also the key stages of its evolution as seen from the point of view of my state of consciousness when I wrote that blog (which, if I live long enough, is apt to go through additional stages in years ahead).


Consciousness is all about evolving relationships in evolving situations as experienced from an ever evolving point of view. There are no absolutes in consciousness. Everything is seen in relation to everything else. Like the juggler, we hoist our set of Indian clubs (or hacky sacks) on our own and keep them flying until we die. There’s my set, your set, your mother’s set, your father’s, your children’s sets, and on and on. We do our best to keep them flying. Sometimes we drop a few, or all of them. We pick them up and start again as best we can. When we tire, we toss a few and keep going until the end.


Such is the challenge of consciousness. We have to work at it. All the time. And try to keep abreast of the situations we find ourselves in. Now it’s personal relationships, children, global warming, economic collapse, fuel costs, loss of jobs, hard times, and all the rest. Here we are, each living our own story, our evolving life, doing the best we can with what we’ve got in the time allowed.


This is the kind of situation consciousness has evolved to help us deal with. Few if any saw it coming. But now it’s here, and tomorrow will evolve into a new situation. Novelty is at the core of human awareness. Now our job is to apply our judgment to the options before us, prioritize those options, work as closely as we can with our partners in similar situations, hoist our clubs and keep going. Every generation has its time to shine. This is ours.





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