Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Intimacy Today

Modernity has taken away the sense of the close-knit community and strong mutual bonds that characterized erstwhile societies and still characterize many traditional ones. This sense of community could hardly be defined as "intimacy" in the way we consider it today, but it did offer a reliable support system to its members. This very rarely exists these days in modern cultures. People do not feel beholden to each other. Alienation is a mark of the modern emphasis on the individual. Intimacy between individuals is how we compensate for the loss of that "belongingness" (sometimes known as "tribalism").

However, in our society, individuals who value their individualism find that true intimacy with like-minded people is getting harder to find. And when found, to establish or consolidate. Too much suspicion and distrust mark relationships. Even when you feel you have somehow been fortunate enough to encounter such a kindred spirit, you are being too bogged down by the anxieties that our modern life has taught us, to give yourself fully to that encounter. There is nothing like the seed of distrust to ruin friendships with the potential for the best of intimacies.

Due to this alienation, we have come to look to these intimate friendships (they are friendships even when they take place within a family) and cherish them. They are the supports of our life now. But they are hard to find and to establish. They are much more demanding in as much as they require going out on a limb, entrusting your weaknesses to the care of someone else. And when they are broken, they can be very painful. Which is why we become even more careful next time around and may miss therefore opportunities to enlarge this circle of amity in our life.

My friends always tell me that I have too great expectations from these relationships that I must learn to be more careful in how I give my heart. But then, I don't see it this way at all. First of all, these very friends who urge me to restrain myself are the best reason why I shouldn't. Because they are proof that my opening up can be and is fully reciprocated. And secondly, my expectations are never greater than what I'm offering. If I'm not willing to risk, then I cannot expect others to. I happen to put huge emphasis on intimate friendships. They are like a chain, and so far I've noticed that the intimate friends of my friends are nearly always people I would have chosen for myself, so that means that something is being sustained, a grid of sorts. But it does require a lot of work and maintenance, especially when these are not next-door dwellers but living in the four corners of the earth.

I find that it is easier to establish a friendship with spiritual people, who have faith in greater powers. They seem more inclined to dispense with the need to withhold trust. They give the relationship all the credit it needs in order to flourish. But they are rare, again.


Radiant microseconds of
loving friction

Silk tipped arrows

glancing off
an incandescent globe


At 8:05 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my tongue, awkward;
in awe of your speaking heart,
can only agree


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