That 3000 mile roadtrip in my last post was Karen’s doing. The choice and plan was my own, but the original idea, the inspiration, had a lot to do with Karen. It’s through hanging around her that I’ve developed my own interest and courage in traveling, especially by car. Her love of such journeys, and the ease with which she takes them, have helped me glimpse possibilities I had not imagined for myself, and have been instrumental as I’ve taken those scary first steps into the unknown.
Less important, but relevant to the specifics of this trip, I had anticipated that we would meet up along the way – a detail that seemed relevant just because it would be fun…until she canceled her plans. Then the panic set in.
“You’ve inspired me to do this, and then you’re not even going to show up?!?” I (asked? accused? wailed?). “You can’t do that!”
“Well, of course I can!” she calmly countered. “It would be a pretty sad life if our inspirations always depended on others – if we could only go where others will go with us.”
I stood there sputtering, knowing that she was exactly and terrifyingly right – restricting ourselves to living only in consensual realities is the makings of complacency, mediocrity, and repression (not to mention the necessity of group trips to the ladies room). Canceling my trip just because she wasn’t going on hers would be ludicrous.
But I just couldn’t shake a feeling of dismay. Somehow this one interaction had let loose a whole cascade of questions about inspiration and partnership and commitment that quickly transcended the details of this trip.
To a large extent, the questions are still bouncing around my mind, but they’ve started to coalesce around two nodes. The first one I found in the dictionary.
There amidst words like stimulation and motivation was the phrase “divine guidance.” That made it all make more sense: when God inspires me into new territory my willingness to act on that inspiration is totally based on trust that God will be there along the way.
So, I can see where I can easily get that mixed up, and that it’s a much more appropriate assumption to make about God than Karen, even if she is my business partner. But it still leaves me with questions – especially ones about how the face of God is something we learn to see with and through human relationships. How can we live the truth of that whilst reconciling the differences?
And then there’s the other gathering node for my musings: a wondering about what really creates longevity in human relationships. As I drove alone across the vast stretches of Texas, I found myself thinking about other times where the very people who had inspired me did not continue on the journey with me.
There were many examples – most notably, the significant love relationships I’ve had in my adult life. In each case, it was the relationship itself that fostered my growth and discovery, and in each case that growth resulted in an understanding of myself that no longer fit that relationship.
Because of all I’ve learned and gained, and the amazing people I’ve had the privilege to love, I have only gratitude for those relationships – just like the delight I now have (after the fact) that my travels to Texas were the exact adventure they were. And as I tell my travel adventure stories to Karen now, it’s clear that there’s continuity even amidst the discontinuities, just as I have found as past lovers have become intimate friends and family.
But still I have questions…is there another level to relationship longevity that I have not yet glimpsed, not yet mastered? Is there a way that our individual journeys and edges and evolutionary paths do become more synchronized with another’s, or many others’? What does it look like to simultaneously say, “I have to do this for me,” and “we’re in this together”? What does it take to sustain that through any situation and across time?
Something tells me that I live that answer every day, even as I continue to seek new expressions and depths of it. But knowing that seems only to deepen the questions.