I had not anticipated it. Actually it came as a complete surprise, and it will ever be the most meaningful thing to have come from my cycle journey to Bhutan. We were barely speaking before I left…
Yet something shifted in the relationship between my father and I whilst I was away. I asked him to come along with me in spirit, and he did, wholeheartedly. He often offered words of support and encouragement, privately and publicly, as I cycled through lands distant from him. I feel a tear arising as I think about this transformation. I think there was perhaps finally space enough in our relationship for us to see something in each other that we struggled to see before.
My hunch as to what was seen is that we will both always be at our best when we accept the other just as they are, without the conditions, without the judgement. That, I fully appreciate, having just spent 4 days with him, might be much easier to do from a distance.For me, at least, unconditionally accepting others, is much more challenging up close. Though finding a way to do so seems altogether essential for creating and sustaining relationships that are deeply fulfilling. Now I know that it is possible to feel that way with father, and beyond the habits we’ve always had of inter-acting and re-acting to one another, we now have this new field of play.
Much to my amazement, other relationships in my life seem to have been evolving too. I thought at best I’d be lucky to sustain these relationships as I connected to new beings all over the world. Yet shifts appear to have taken place – quite consciously in many cases – and the love feels a little bit stronger for it. Not that I am completely sure of this, since I haven’t reconnected with everyone in person yet. I know I have a habit of idolising people a little too much; forming a version of them in my mind that isn’t actually them, which will probably impede my ability to take them exactly as they are when I see them.
Gratitude and support
One of the other very important benefits of having been away for so long is that I can see more clearly the role that other beings have in my life. The needs they were helping me fulfil in their own unique way, whether that be my needs for intellectual stimulation, physical holding, emotional support, have become more apparent without their close proximity in my life. That’s amplified my already fairly high levels of gratitude towards others, which is perhaps another crucial ingredient for love.
Then there is of course the support. I was often riding alone – far from much I would consider familiar – yet just as my father came along, others came along too – in heart, in spirit. Even in my most desperate moments, there was always a feeling that I was not that alone, because I knew deep within my heart that there were many who would support me, were I to request it, if I could. Just knowing support was out there somewhere was sometimes enough in itself. I think in choosing to do what I was doing for so long there was in fact something of a veiled request for support. It was probably evident I would need support for the journey and, since generally people often like to help others but might not always see how to do so, people seemed willing to provide me with it.
From distance to closeness
My time away has enabled a deepening on my understanding of what seems essential for love. That is important in itself. Yet what seems even more vital is to bring these core components of love to the fore when close. It might be more difficult, yet it will be infinitely more enriching for all.