I have come to the point in my life where I have sufficient experiences to perhaps have an opinion worth noting. I now believe that all my self-knowing can be predicated upon relationships. Relationships take many forms, and in relationship with any person, place, or thing, my essential self is always revealed.
To have a relationship I must be willing to engage something of myself, and there must be another with whom to engage. I take the liberty of expanding upon “another” to mean not only person, but also place or thing, because my reaction to place or thing is also self-revealing. Whether another person, place or thing finds me inviting in return, depends primarily on the pleasure we take from each other and is only important to consider insofar as we decide to have a lengthy or a short duration of relationship.
What invites me into a relationship might be my attention for a pleasant sensation, my need of a certain object, or even my interest in discerning the self of another being. For example, from where I sit typing I see three old library computers, nine chairs, shelves of books and videotapes lining the walls, and living plants lining the windows. The chairs that would contain me do not have a sense of self that I would consciously seek to know; my relationship with chairs is solely defined by their functioning. The depth of comfort of one invites me, as does the proximity of another to the table upon which I have placed my computer, the tool of my trade. The old library computers are of no use to me; I have an excellent relationship with this fast little high memory gem of a Mac I am typing upon now. The plants in this room would have greater affinity with the human who cares for them and waters them than for me, the stranger visiting their room for the first time. The “self” of a plant reveals itself through the time and care I take of it, to observe it and understand its needs, as I have learned through gardening and “communing” with trees in the forest during long, contemplative hikes.
In my use of the term “relationships” I include the energetic component of “being with” in communication and holding the idea that everything existing has a relationship to every other thing existing by virtue of its existence. This idea is not new. A hologram is reproduced by the image or memory held of the whole of a thing by the part of a thing, just as DNA holds the memory of the whole organism in the nucleus of a specialized cell as well as the encoded memory of the lineage of a species.
My relationship to a thing depends upon how much energy I am willing to invest in observing it, getting to know it, communicate with it. The term relationship is thus broadened again by a willingness to invest energy and time and the connection of communication and still further by the purpose of the relationship.