A Journey to the Center of the Earth
NOTE: my views are my own and not the views of any institution I am affiliated with nor necessarily of the people I’m related to. What a difference one year makes. I’m sitting in my hotel room in Yokohama overlooking the bay. It’s a nice spot to have devotions, read, and shoot off email. In an hour, I’ll go to the gym, follow that with breakfast, and get some work done before I do a little shopping and maybe spend time at the onsen across the hotel. Listing down my schedule for the day, thinking about how nice this family vacation has been so far, I keep having this recurring thought: “I wish Yasmin was here.” She had to renew her passport and that look longer than we thought. While taking her home after work last week, she said and asked at the same time like women do, “I don’t think you’re going to miss me.” and I stupidly answered, “Maybe. I’m not really the missing type.” Which upset her briefly until she asked me about it and I explained myself. I appreciate that about Yasmin. She gets emotional like any girl but she’s able to pull herself together and, after doing that, is willing to explain to me what she’s feeling instead of leaving me guessing about what I did that was stupid. I think it’s highly immature to expect people to always know when they have hurt you. If something is really important and needs resolving, don’t make people guess and stew, go talk to them openly and with the intent of restoring more than proving. Now if it’s really not that important, let go of it. Pride, fear, and the great activator of both, pain, make us forget that loving someone means wanting them to flourish. If our getting hurt makes us forget that intention then it shows our main concern is ourselves. I wish Yasmin was here. I’ve learned a lot from her, about how light it can be to forgive and let go, to be tough yet gentle, and I’ve learned a lot from being contained in a relationship. Being in a relationship is like entering a beautiful garden with someone, with the most amazing everything that seems to go on for miles, only to find yourselves in the middle of a war zone with scorched earth, crumbled walls, conflicting sides, yet when you journey past that, in the middle of that war zone, is a garden even more beautiful than the one you entered and more expansive, only to find that in the middle of that garden is another darker war zone, then another even greater garden, and on and on like living in a Matryoshka that keeps getting better. How can being in a relationship defy physics and get greater and greater as one journeys inside it? By going deeper, and as we persevere through the good and the bad, we find even more beautiful things. Of course that’s if the person has a beautiful soul. And I believe there are people with dark ones. Being in a relationship is a journey into the center of each other, passing both marvels and horrors, yet, like Jules Verne’s novel, driven by a sense of desire to know what’s inside. I like one article I read that said that the point of adventure was to leave your comfort and security to attempt something great, not to give in to despair during seemingly hopeless situations, and not to be complacent about the world and be trapped in the philosophical, but to change it through disciplined and intelligent action. In a world where almost everything has been mapped by satellites, where the future is routinely predicted by actuarials, ultra-sounds, prophets, experts, and analysts, where comfort and security have become the basis for wisdom and prudence, it is easy to forget the beauty of mystery and adventure. Maybe that’s one reason why many, if not most, relationships today fail. Maybe we’ve made it too much about journeying into our “best life” as defined by our individual desires for securities and comforts, and maybe we reinforce this by making selfish and fear-based criteria for a partner. Maybe this is why many relationships in areas incredibly saturated by the wisdom of books, blogs, workshops, and talks, don’t last. Maybe, in our effort to get things right, we’ve removed the mystery and adventure, and in doing so, removed the discovery that makes being in a relationship beautiful. Maybe in our obsession with finding “God’s perfect choice” we miss out on the privilege, responsibility, and beauty of the “faith choice” – a decision made in God-given freedom, motivated by God’s empowering love, assured by God-pleasing faith, and resulting in God-glorifying obedience. And I don’t think those two are mutually exclusive but one in the same. I resolved a long time ago to remain in perpetual adventure, to live by faith, not by sight, especially with the big things, like a journey into the heart of someone you love. Ok, that’s enough writing. Time to get the day going. I wish Yasmin was here.