Mere Intention

be vulnerable

Category: Post-Reading Contemplations

Love Warrior – Reflection 1

“The process of knowing and  loving another person happens for me through conversation.” ~Glennon Doyle Melton in Love Warrior

Yes. That. Knowing + Loving = Relationship.

I have my people – they have taken time, have asked questions, have listened, have challenged, have argued and disagreed, but loved unconditionally and passed no judgment.

Talking at me, never asking my opinion, not investing time, and assuming things about or judging me?…yeah, that’s going no where. It just won’t. Ever.

Relationships are intentional. We must choose them. When two parties are in agreement about wanting relationship, the relationship itself is not just magically in tact. Hard work with a good amount of truth-telling and vulnerability must be present from both parties.

Relationships are necessary. For us to be our best selves, I believe we must be in real relationship with a few key people. Who these people are and the roles they play may vary from person to person, but true, deliberate relationship needs to be present in our lives. We can not be who we are meant to be without relationship.

Trusting another person with your thoughts and desires and messiness, as well as being trustworthy with theirs, is a risk. A totally terrifying risk.

But it’s worth it.

In true relationship we find a soft place to land after being hurt, we find a firm punch to the shoulder when we need to snap out of our self-centeredness, we find peace and challenge and quiet.

A couple of days ago I wrote that my dad always chose me. He chose relationship with me. I chose it with him. There were a few years during my teens that we rarely spoke or saw one another aside from my birthday or holidays. But when I found myself living on my own, I desired more of the relationship that I had been given as a child. Of time together eating donuts and talking cars. He always listened intently to whatever I was saying, he traveled hours and sometimes days to visit me, multiple times a year. As I had kids, the frequency of visits increased, but interestingly, I still felt like I was his priority.

Our relationships are our responsibility. We usually get from them what we put into them.

I have relationships that have come and gone in my life. Good, real, honest, strong relationships, that after a time, fizzle out for one reason or another and have disappeared. To be honest, I generally don’t yearn to have them back. I just acknowledge the good that was in them when they existed and let the rest fall away.

When talking about close friendships, Melton writes, “To know someone I need to hear [them], and to feel known, I need to be heard […] we go deeper into each other’s hearts, minds, pasts and dreams. Eventually, a friendship is built – a solid, sheltering structure that exists in the space between us – a space outside of ourselves that we can climb deep into.”



“Stopping is not passive, stopping allows us to look at the world as if we have seen it for the first time. Stopping stops us from keeping things alive beyond their appointed time. Stopping makes us realize everything is going to disappear, including ourselves, and enables us to stop trying to act as if we were immortal. We begin to realize that disappearance can be as miraculous as appearance.” ~from The Three Marriages by David Whyte

Stopping is next to impossible. Even if we can get our bodies to stop moving for a bit, our minds don’t know how to turn off.

Phones beeping to say that someone is contacting us or talking about us. Kids calling out for their butt to be wiped or after having a bad dream. The dvr needing to have some shows watched to make room for more to be recorded. Swishing of the dishwasher, thumping of the dryer, buzz of another load of clothes washed. Dogs needing to shit. Said shit needing to be picked up.

What happens if we intentionally put ourselves in an environment that helps facilitate stopping. Where do you need to go? How long do you think it would take you to get to the point of being able to breathe a single cleansing breath, to feel any sort of release, to just sit with yourself?

It takes me at least 48 hours for me to start to unwind. 48 consecutive hours of silence and alone-ness…to start the process of stopping. This seems impossible, yet I need it.

How do we pursue these needs and support one another in the process?

Beginning to Detect Self

Back to the fantastic book The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship by David Whyte. I finished the book just days before my granny got really sick and am just now making my way back to processing the information and wanting to write about it.

In the chapter The Doorless Door: Youth’s First Glimpse of the Self, Whyte writes:

“…all of us live amidst a thicket of questions forced upon us that are not our own, or at least not our own way of asking them. One of the first great steps we take in looking for a glimpse of the self depends on our ability to learn how to ask our own questions; the ones that make sense to us, no matter how simple they might seem. The first step toward the self is the step discerning what questions are our own, and what questions we have been bullied into by others seemingly taller, more adult or more educated than we are.”

I’ve been exploring this idea of asking my own questions, but it’s been hard to figure out what to ask, honestly. I’ve functioned in the mode of doing what needs to be done and making sure peace is kept, therefore not really having any of my own questions.

Whyte positions this idea as something to be explored in youth. Well, I missed the boat on that by a few decades and I think it makes the process more difficult, but I am also more confident when I find questions to ask.  Like I’ve had more time to formulate exactly what I want to ask (which may or may not be a slight perfectionist tendency).

I want to be more purposeful in asking questions that are simple. Simple, yet interesting and provocative. By trying this myself, maybe those I interact with will begin the exploration of asking their own questions. Maybe.

The Marriage of Self

NaBloPoMo #7

In a recent post I outlined the premise of the book “The Three Marriages – Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship”.

In Whyte’s description of this very private self marriage he talks about some interesting dynamics of this deeply personal relationship. This relationship with self is moving and changing and is just as hard to grasp as the outwardly focused marriages of human relationship and work, and it’s also the marriage that we lose sight of and need the most. This marriage is the foundation for all other marriages, yet in the midst of our daily/annual/decades of life we forget about it.

We can end up completely parched by giving endlessly to work and other human relationship, lacking the place to step from, and end up debilitated all together.

The farther we get from ourselves and the pursuit of this relationship, the harder it is to find our way back to it. We know that we need this connection, but we keep giving outwardly and get so turned around (facing outwardly, if you will) that in time we can’t figure out how to get back to us. We become unable and afraid to be alone. Unable to sit with ourselves because if we do we might realize that the outward energies are being spent in places we don’t actually agree with, where we aren’t really taking the best care. So we keep trudging through the motions, weighted but not knowing how to slow down or stop. Whyte says,

“…it can seem as if this internal marriage is asking for a renunciation of the outer two marriages. Feeling this can come as almost a relief, a way out, for in the name of our many responsibilities and duties, we can use it as the perfect excuse  not to look inside at all, feeling as if our outer world will fall apart if we spend any time looking for the person who exists at the intersection of all these outer commitments.”

Marriage to self is intense and intentional. To pursue the relationship takes a lot of time and even more vulnerability. It can change all other relationships, how we see the world and interact with it. It takes practice.

The practice is silence. Listening to our inner most being. Solitude. It can not be forced or willed into relationship. It’s the dirtiest, hardest, most rewarding thing we can do for ourselves.

I am on this journey now and it’s hard, but I truly believe the rest of my life deserves a good foundation of self, influencing all other paths I pursue.

When will you begin?

Initial Thoughts on “The Three Marriages”

NaBloPoMo #4

A friend of mine recommended author and poet David Whyte to me recently. When I went to the library to find a collection of his poems I was disappointed…they had none. But, they did have two of his non-fiction writings. I chose to check out “The Three Marriages – Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship” because it sounds interesting – and has the word ‘reimagining’ in the title, a word I associate directly with my friend, Doug Pagitt.

Today I finally started reading the book. This is the first paragraph from the section of the book called The Premise:

“The current understanding of work-life balance is too simplistic. People find it hard to balance work with family, family with self, because it might not be a question of balance. Some other dynamic is in play, something to do with a very human attempt at happiness that does not quantify different parts of life and then set them apart against one another. We are collectively exhausted because of our inability to hold competing parts of ourselves together in a more integrated way. These hidden human dynamics of integration are more of a conversation, more of a synthesis and more of an almost religious and sometimes  almost delirious quest for meaning than a simple attempt at daily ease and contentment.”

Wow. Finally.

Whyte goes on in the first chapter to describe what the three marriages are. The first is marriage in the sense of personal commitment to one other person (Relationship), but also sets the stage for all other commitments we make through life. The second outlined is Work and how a need for seeing our job as more than just doing it as a means to an end/just to pay the bills. The third marriage Whyte describes is Self, the non-public marriage.

I have been saying for quite a while that I think “balance” is a load of crap. Survival is more my experience. And trying to smile and be both authentic and vulnerable in the midst is what I strive for…meaning it definitely does not happen all the time.

Whyte’s way of writing is perfect for my brain. It’s conversational and poetic at the same time. These topics are thought provoking, and I look forward to seeing where he goes with all this!

…and I have to find more time to read this week.