Dedicated Awareness

1274 Relax and Succeed - Threat your relationshipsA few years back some newlyweds moved in down the street. You know the type. They were the kind of couple that frustrates unloved people because they are so doting, so nose-to-nose, as they bob in a bubbly beaming kind of love.

They got themselves the cutest little puppy. He wasn’t too sure-footed, but he made up for a lack of direction in enthusiasm. Their morning walks past my house looked like their conversations sounded, zipping from over here to over there for no apparent reason, but every minute of travel was full of life as he tangled the two together with his leash. I saw this little tableau play out every single morning at 6:00am.

After they had lived there a couple of years, their walk had switched to match the dog’s. Now it was a bit after 6:00am when they went by, although that worked because they could move faster thanks to the dog walking in a straight line while they just held hands and talked. Sometimes you could tell one had an early morning or a late night, because one or the other of them would go by alone with the dog, which worked, because by then the dog was less trouble in that he was much more predictable by then.

1274 Relax and Succeed - Do not let a lack of awarenessWithin a couple years after that people saw them together far less often. Their appearances grew less youthful and more professional. They walked and talked more professionally too, even to each other. By now they were almost ignoring the dog the walk was so predictable.

By about seven years in, he’s usually walking the dog alone, and if it’s not him alone it’s her. Whoever it is is now on the phone more than they pay attention to the dog. As we age we get jobs that demand more, our days start often earlier. Even the dog was starting to walk more slowly by then.

Over the next few years you saw them together and apart, but even when they were together it definitely seemed like the warmth had worn off. They’d go by, bundled up in winter clothes, never holding hands, often on their phones in separate virtual locations. I’d see the dog run around in the field chasing the ball, but no one was watching it, and they only looked for the ball after the dog was waiting for another throw, no more pride in him just finding it all.

I found it a bit sad to watch, because it had always been a good and loyal dog. But now he was slowing down and his running days were numbered and he seemed more anxious than ever to access his inner puppy. Mostly his excitement just frustrated them as they worked to calm him down.

1274 Relax and Succeed - The best time to plant a treeEventually the owner was waiting for the dog as it limped along. It just sat in the field now and watched the other dogs run, wishing it still could too. And so it would sit there, alone in the cold, while whoever was walking him checked their work messages before dragging him back to the house.

Of course eventually the dog died, as did the relationship. In fact, the track of their walks is very similar to the journey most relationships take, from focus and appreciation to assumption and demands. With each slightly colder step, we remove the heat from the relationship and we create unnecessary distance between us and others. This only happens due a lack of consciousness that it is happening.

The dog died with puppy still in his heart. But that pup could not play without someone to play with. So too went the relationship. The puppy; the loving, caring, bumbling, mistake-ridden, totally forgiven for crapping on the carpet puppy, was always present. All he needed was two partners who were prepared to stay connected and to notice he was there, as playful as ever. If we can all learn to do that one thing, we can all learn to keep our dogs for as long as we live.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Truly Loving

Are you ready to truly love someone? It’s not for the faint of heart. People tell themselves they can do this because they know the feeling of getting swept up in someone else. But that’s more a storm of neuro-chemicals you give yourself via your own thinking, it’s not really because of the other person. It’s due to your thoughts about them. And it is a great feeling. But the peaks are easy. Everyone loves the peaks. It’s how you handle the valleys that counts. That’s where you prove your love. Where it’s hard.

554 Relax and Succeed - The truth is that the more imtimately you know someoneEvery person you know will have a huge variety of days in their lives. Even if you died at 30, that’s almost 11,000 days. And to experience happiness you need something to compare to, so you need days that suck so that you can recognize the ones that are great. Let’s say we voluntarily surrender 4%—a pretty small amount of your time—to you experiencing things you don’t enjoy. That’s about 450 days for every 30 years. That’s more than a year for each stage of life. So if you want to know how good your relationship is, you’ll find out during those days.

When people are scared they’ll be aggressive because they feel unusually weak. But if you love someone you have faith in their core, and so behaviour outside of their normal patterns doesn’t look bad to you—it looks like a sign that something is wrong. They don’t need scolding. They need help. They don’t need to be deserted. They need to be hugged.

554 Relax and Succeed -A physician once saidWe all fluctuate in our psychological state. To say someone is mentally or emotionally healthy is to say that they exhibit a general kind of equanimity. They maintain a rare—though not constant—state of gracefulness in their interactions with the world. Again, even those individuals can slip into weaker, self-critical thought-streams. And as long as they think those insecure thoughts they will feel those insecure feelings.

Your relationship is not failing if one or the other of you is facing an enormous struggle. Maybe one of you drinks too much. Maybe one of you has a secret lover. Maybe you’re not proud of yourself and your self-hatred is bleeding out into your treatment of other people. Maybe your lack of power over cancer is causing you to over-exert power at work and now your job’s in danger and that’s causing relationship strife. There are a lot of ways to struggle both minor and major but they are all worthy of our respect. It is during these times that people prove whether or not they love someone. The real questions is, will you stick with them when it’s hard instead of easy?

Look at the person you’re dating’s worst days. Imagine 4% of your life being spent that way. If they’re still worth it, then you’re fine. Because after all, they’ll have to be just as forgiving to you. 😉

peace. s