The topic, as suggested in a comment,
I think life is all about relationships/interactions , no matter how brief or seeming insignificant they may seem at the moment.
I’m not sure I think life is ALL about relationships and interactions, but I would definitely say 85% of it is.
The other 15% I think has to be completely about self. Simply and solely about self. The 85% is about self and others, but, that 15% is really important. Without it, how we interact with others wouldn’t be the same.
That said, our relationships and interactions are extremely important. They shape who we are, how we think, and react. They help us decide how and when to begin acting instead of reacting. They teach us how to be us.
Every face we see, every action we notice, every person that accidentally brushes us, they all mold us. How many happy faces do we see each day vs how many angry or sad ones. How many people do we see sitting quietly or animatedly reciting something to the person next to them. I think these glimpses into other peoples lives help shape our lives. We instinctively make decisions and judgments and run scenarios through our heads about it.
Once upon a time a long time ago, some one told me, “Never talk about something you don’t have personal experience about. If you haven’t been part of an event you can’t really know what it’s about.” I can’t really remember what spurred it on, but I’m sure I made some hasty decision about something and got called out on it. I was young, maybe 10 or 11, but that has stuck with me. HARD. It made a profound, subconscious effect that I still can’t shake even though it can actually cause problems.
Cause problems you ask? How can that cause problems? Quite frankly, people can get thrown off because apparently it can sound as if I only want to talk about myself. This is really not the case, I’m just thoroughly unable to talk about a subject I haven’t had something to do with in case I get the whole thing wrong.
Now, I have learned how to talk about subjects I have only experienced through reading, watching, etc, so it’s getting better, but the point is that, that one brief moment made a HUGE impact.
I have met so many people along my path, that I have only known briefly, that really have significantly impacted my life, in ways they will never know.
For example, for a short time I was training a couple in their home. I had some car issues come up and was strapped for cash to get them fixed. Never ever expecting it, this couple gave me a check to help fix the car problems on their last appointment. All this happened at a very personally difficult time. A friend was able to help me fix the car myself, saving hundreds of dollars. After a singularly difficult evening with the personal issues I had at the time, I made a split second decision to buy a ticket to San Diego and go meditate at my Ocean.
I needed to clear my head, figure out how to get through what was happening, and how to take the next steps. I needed my ocean to do that. Living in New Mexico, thousands of miles from ANY ocean, was difficult. I needed to sit by the ocean and hear the sounds, smell the smells, and let her work her magic on my crazy life.
I never saw that couple again, but, that trip was the pivotal moment in an extremely important time in my life.
I’ve always been a people watcher. My parents were hardly an example of how to parent. In fact growing up the best examples I had for parenting were the TV parents. I began running away early, I knew it wasn’t healthy for me to be there. Most of my early teen years were spent in several institutions, so really after about 12 or so, I didn’t have any example of parenting.
It has been all the many amazing, terrible, wonderful, average parents out there, that I’ve watched and asked, and read about, that helped me become a good parent. All the interactions with other parents helped shape the parent I was becoming. I never shied away from asking or listening to advice. I would gauge it against what I knew or had seen or had tried already.
Every parent I saw, every where I went, great, terrible, and everything in between, knowingly or oblivious, helped me decide how to act during situations with my children as they came up. Hells bells I screwed stuff up! And yet, I know that in spite of their dad’s influence, I raised three really great kids.
I have lived in so many places…… and I have met people who changed my life in every one. The neighbors in WA that came to look after me when Cori was born. My old housemates when the ex and I were first married. The couple we shared Christmas with in CT. The teacher in NJ. The many people at the dinners we attended at Princeton. The other wives from the submarine days. The dear friends I’ve made that have stayed my friends for so many years, and the momentary friends that helped me understand me and my world better. The woman who taught me to belly dance in order to avoid being put on bed rest. The guy who drove me to get my tire fixed. The guy who told me to “just open the lid and pour it in”. My classmates in college and university. My amazing amazing instructors and professors. The new friends I am making as I go around the world.
The guy who told me I had a nice smile. The lady who stopped and picked up something I had dropped and gave it back to me. The girl who moved over on the bus so I could sit down. The man who politely gave me directions. The woman who stared in amazement as I asked for directions from two black boys without reservation. The girl confidently reading a book by herself at a crowded restaurant who still gives me strength to do things by myself even today.
I could go on with this list for HOURS!
These seemingly insignificant interactions shape how I choose to behave. I try to make sure there is room on the bus. I try to help people smile. I return things to their owners. I share anything I can. I try to be gracious. I try to be a good friend.
I know that I can be someone’s example of how to be polite, or unafraid, or unbiased because so many people have been mine.
Every interaction you have affects your life. Large or small, they affect who you become, they affect how you see the world. These interactions, no matter how fleeting can later become the thing you look back on and think about the most.
That 15% of self is important because
You decide if it’s for negative or positive.
You decide if you are going to harp or heed.
You decide if you move backward, stay in limbo, or move forward.
You decide if you are going to blame or learn.
But once those decisions are made:
Life really is about the relationships and interactions you have with the inhabitants of planet Earth.