“Life is like stepping onto a boat which is about to sail out to sea and sink.”
– Shunryu Suzuki
Relationships are a part of life, and in this case, they are no different. No matter what type of relationship we are in, the relationship is destined to end. It may end in death or breakup, but surely it will end. We will eventually lose everyone we hold dear to us, and everyone that holds us dear will eventually lose us as well. This is life. We embark on these relationship journeys and whether we go into it knowing this reality or lie to ourselves thinking differently, the pain of that loss is the same. The hurt, the anguish, and the grief is all the same.
After my most recent loss, the thought occurred to me that maybe I should just live alone for the rest of my life. I spent quite a bit of time alone and came to realize I actually enjoyed it very much. But during this time alone, I also came to realize that the benefits of being in any relationship (family, friends, or romantic) far outweigh the benefits of being alone.
In relationships, we are constantly introduced and reintroduced to ourselves. Our loved ones act as mirrors and show us the glorious and the not-so-glorious sides of ourselves. Our loved ones remind us of how amazing and lovable we are. In an act of love, we can also change our not-so-glorious parts that tend to cause our loved ones pain. Sometimes our loved ones simply accept those parts of us as well.
But the ultimate benefit, I believe, that comes from being in a relationship is that we learn how to love, forgive, and be forgiven; something that is extremely difficult to do without another human being. We learn how to look beyond ourselves and our ego. We are able to reflect on the things that we have done and learn and grow, because we love those around us and cherish their presence. We strive to be better parents, friends, children, workers, and siblings. We do this because we cherish the presence of others, even if their presence can come at the cost of us having to give up some of our bad habits to make our loved ones feel a little better sometimes, and they do the same for us.
Life, and all the relationships we are in, are boats set out to sail and destined to sink. Sometimes the boats have lots of holes in them and sink very quickly. Some have minimal holes and last for quite a long time. Some seem to be sinking quickly but are patched up mid-sail only to extend the remaining time allotted for the trip.
But whatever boat you end up getting into, I strongly believe that, be it a short or a long ride, if you must pack anything, keep your baggage light, and only bring joy with you, and treat every moment as your last, because you never know when it actually will be.