Nourish your relationships like you nourish your skin daily with cream.
Like your body with juicy fruits and nutritious meals.
Like your flowers with sun and water.
Our relationships are what matter most to us.
When on your deathbed, think of your last thoughts. Will you remember the laughter you shared with a friend? The hug you shared with your parent? The long talks you shared with your partner? The adventures you shared with your children? Or will you remember the long hours in the office, that nice car you own, the fancy shoes you bought.
When we feel lonely we reach out to our friends. If we have none, we wonder why, and we go back to work or Netflix. We get used to this and think we don't need anyone. We’ve been taught to be strong is to be alone.
“But the self is also entangled in a cosmic connection with the people around us and with social, political, and economic structures. We don’t just learn to love ourselves by ourselves,” says Esther Perel. She continues:
“it can be wonderful to be alone, to give our body a massage, to cook ourselves a delicious meal for one, but this isn’t self-love, it’s self-reliance and self-sufficiency.” - Esther Perel
I think I am not alone in occasionally feeling like there's a hole in me, left empty. Filled when I have people around me I love, and they love me back. It is through our relationships that we learn how to love - ourselves but also other people. It is through other people that we learn joy, we learn how to handle pain, and we find fulfilment.
Friendship, for instance, is a very overlooked relationship. Pop culture, literature and art worship at the alter of romantic love. Go to a bookshop and stack up the books on romantic love next to the ones on friendship and you'll see what society deems as important enough to work on. Good friends, though, are the ones always there for us, to listen to us, to offer a shoulder to cry in, to help when we’re in trouble, to sing silly songs on a road trip, to dance away our troubles until morning. Friends are the families we create, our brothers and sisters that we choose. And yet, what I notice more and more as I get older, is how little time we have for our friends. We see each other once a month or so, because we’re busy. We disappear because we’re burnt out. We don’t try, we don’t cross the city, we don’t fly, because it feels like too much effort.
Take a moment to think of a dear friend. Think of your times together. What emotions arise? Notice your body. Notice the sensations. Isn’t this something to feel gratitude for? Isn’t this something worthy of our time and effort?
We tend to take people close to us for granted. Like our health, we don’t appreciate how privileged we are to have functioning legs, with our nerves in our spine sending them a message to move, until we get sick, and our legs hurt, and we start limping.
Think of your relationships like a field. If you don’t water your trees, don’t expect its fruits. If you visit it twice a year, you’ll find weeds and dryness. Give love to it, and it will share its gifts with you.
Self check in:
• How often do you tell your friends you love them?
• How often do you do something for your loved ones?
• How often do you put convenience and ambition ahead of your friendships?