It's interesting to me what kind of effort is needed to really have contact with other people.
So much of the way I behave and manifest towards others is automatic, habitual, that I rarely bring enough of my presence to the exchange to really honor them. I repeatedly see in ordinary life that I don't look at other people and don't value the contact with them enough. There is something inside me that turns away, even when interacting with people I really love, or people I am in regular relationship with- at work, for example.
I was talking with my teacher about this last night. She is 86 years old and still encountering precisely that same set of habits in herself- and still questioning it. I think no matter what we do, no matter how old we are, there may always be parts of us that just outright fail to make the effort to be in relationship. As Gurdjieff said, "Man cannot do."
Certainly this can improve over a lifetime, but only if I see it and study it.
Back in the years when I was, supposedly, an artist, I put art in front of people. That is, doing artwork was more important than being in relationship with other human beings. As though the canvas and sheets of paper somehow transcended life and breath. I finally put the artist thing behind me, at least for the most part, and now I spend more time with people and value them more- yet I still have this question about whether or not I am really there with them.
It seems to me to first take a more fully formed inner connection to myself if I want to be there with and for others. My lack of interest doesn't start with my lack of interest in other people; it starts with my lack of interest in myself. There are a lot of very interesting things going on inside this environment I call a mind and a body. I could pay a great deal more attention to them if I wanted to.
So why the indifference?
I think it stems above all from a disbelief in my own mortality. Whenever enough of me gets together to perceive anything real- after there is an organic sense of this state called Life, and Being- one of the first intuitions I receive is a tangible sense of how impermanent everything is, of how this moment will not come again. When the energy to sustain that kind of vision arises within me, there is a greater appreciation of the uniqueness of each moment- a uniqueness which is denied by the disconnected state I usually live in. That translates directly into a compassion for the other person.
None of us is here for long. A new understanding of value emerges.
What is it? In-formation. To form an inner connection so that one can perhaps welcome and entertain a guest by the name of deep appreciation.
That guest introduces me to a more three centered kind of work: the active, gritty physical act of seeing; the effort of intelligence to comprehend it; the feeling of gratitude that values it.
Here, within this formerly fallow earth of Being I can begin to reclaim a more organic experience of my life. A more ordinary experience which is extraordinary in the sense that I live so much in denial of it.
And- if I am fortunate enough, today or tomorrow, or the next one, to awaken to this sensation of inhabiting my life, then perhaps I will find you there with me.
In all other situations, my sheep are perpetually lost in a wildness of my own construction.