I've been wondering recently about how people simply vanish from our lives and how we vanish from other peoples' lives--all this vanishing while we're still alive. So far I've thought of two reasons.
There is the pace of modern living which makes intimacy difficult in spite of emailing; we just can't, we feel, spend or take the time it takes to grow a relationship. More recently I've thought we vanish from each other's lives when we can no longer be playful together. Put another way, our games have become finite (winners and losers) -- as if we have lost touch with a playfulness which is infinite, where the goal of the play is to just keep on playing and where we change the rules to make this happen.
I believe that people come in and out of our lives because they're meant to teach us certain lessons. When people vanish, it can be because their role was simply to plant a seed, which will grow over time as our awareness evolves.
I've moved 10 times in the last 15 years including Tokyo, London twice, Holland, TX and PA. Oh, and NC, where we live now. I used to think that leaving equated to vanishing, but I've found that even when I haven't heard from someone in years, I'll suddenly get a message that they're coming to visit. I'm moved by the fact that friendship is not dependent on regular communication.
I take great comfort in the fact that friends are like energy. There's no loss or destruction, even as forms change. They'll always be our friends, simply because we've exchanged the gift of our spirits.
Well, I'm reacting to another interpretation of a friend's vanishing - because of death. A friend died this week and I just can't get my head around the fact that I won't see him again. It continues to be a surprise for me many times a day. It changes perspective of course, the fact that someone's in your life and then just gone makes me look around at who's still here in this musical chairs game. So when it's not a vanishing out of choice or apathy or just being busy, it sure the hell is final. Nothing enlightening here I guess, just some thoughts ...
This question stays with me especially since I have grown more solitary in the last few years in many ways. I ran into this today from John Dunne's book, The Reasons of the Heart, A Journey into Solitude and Back into the Human Circle: "To be loved means to be consumed," Rilke says, "to love is to give light with inexhaustible oil. To be loved is to pass away, to love is to endure." As long as he lives in the excitement of understanding and loving, he will give light with inexhaustible oil, he will endure. If he once turns toward being understood and being loved, he fears, he will begin to be consumed, he will begin to pass away."
... Actually a person's story can be told in different ways, with different degrees of inwardness, the most inward being that of the spiritual adventure. In its least inward form it is the story of what happens to him, of the things and situations of his life. In a somewhat more inward form it is the story of the choices he makes, how he relates to things and situations. In a still more inward form it is the story of what he says, or better, of what he has to say, the story of his message, of what he has to communicate to others, his insight into his experience. In its most inward form, as that of a spiritual adventure, it is the story of the meaning he embodies in his life and death, the story of what he incarnates.
Telling the story of what has happened to him, our solitary man would have to tell how in pursuing the fulfillment of his deepest needs, his longing for communion on the deepest level of his life, he has let his other needs, especially his longing for simple human intimacy, go unfulfilled."
Is Dunne saying that it is possible that in our search for that deeper communion we might slip into and get caught by a spiritual adventure that somehow takes us away from our simple human needs of our communion with one another. Is it possible that many of us have stayed too long in the inner sphere (acted out in our neighborhoodless society), perhaps fueled by a disappointment for not sustaining the ecstacy of Love.
My take on all of this relates back to what you are saying about playing together. What do I mean by playing together? Giving and receiving out of the fullness of who we are. Risking the disappointment by allowing myself to be carried into communication with another without expectations of you fulfilling my spiritual needs. And this requires, I see now, time for that sacred communion with Other (PW) and back Out again.
My first Write in the introductory course showed me how I vanish from myself by how it is that I return. And it is no wonder that I vanish from others if I am not also at home.
Toby, it's been very enlightening to think about relationships I've had that have ended, in the way you're talking about it here. It takes the blame out of relationships I've been in that have ended, whether it was me doing the vanishing, or the other. And a useful way to describe the feeling of suffocation, on the one hand (the one vanishing) and fear on the other, fear of the infinite.
I've just re-read all the messages in this thread. So many wise and interesting things said. Any thoughts on a felt-sense that this is the (historical?) moment for more worldly manifestation? finding one's truer work? being less caught up in our vanishing modes? More present ot ourselves and so to others?
I have some idea what it means to be more present to ourselves. As for "And so to others" (the "and so").... and "more present to others".... if Toby or anyone else can say even the smallest bit more about what s/he means by that, I'd be interested.
And what about being able to experience the presence of another? Is this just part and parcel of being ourselves more present? I'm thinking of a friend whose reaction to imminent experience (?) is to whip out a recording device, a camera, VCR, whatever. And my own (hopefully distant, minor) participation in the dehumanization of others--as in conversations where, even if I am listening more than speaking, I might never feel "oh, you're here too." The only paradises are lost/vanished (or recorded or mediated) paradises? Maybe I didn't at first, just now, hear Toby's careful use of comparatives in his questions: "more," "truer," "less".
Interesting thought here. I think as we get older, we get more reflective and look move deeply within. My best moments are alone. I know that as I've gotten older, I've had to become more selective with friends, with what I do, how I spend my time and what I want with life. I live in the country surrounded by hills, woods and farms. My joy each morning is to sit in the dining room and look out across fields, stream and farms and reflect on the nature and undisturbed beauty I see. This insulates me from the harshness of the world. I've intentionally let go of many things and people. A conscious choice. And this is not to say that I don't nurture friendships and family. To the contrary. But I do think we start to let some people vanish in our life. I have come to relish my aloneness and the time to rummage in places I have long set aside. I just finished a book by Karen Armstrong, "The Spiral Staircase." I think I like her definition of spirituality. The grace with which one handles the practice of life. In short....how I treat you. The everyday acts of care and respect. Differences there will always be. The art is, can be walk away smiling and live without fear and worry. Several months ago as I was writing, movement caught my eye. A doe was trying to cajole a faun to cross the stream. Everytime the doe got her little one to step into the stream, she'd turn and prance out. This went on for two hours. I remember feeling so content with life. It was one of those moments that registers with the soul. And then I thought about the Iraqi women suffering the loss of pain and death. Certainly a retorical question, but how could one woman feel such joy and contentment while another feels nothing but grief and pain. All because of differences and not understanding one another. Mary
How can I be more present to myself with others, is my question. When being present to myself is such a chore. I mean a full time job. I doubt I'll ever do enough writes to accomplish that. Being present to myself, would BE being present to others, wouldn't it?
I tried, for many years, living in a rural setting more isolated from others, but I eventually realized that, for me, "nature" is not enough to come up against in order to become present to myself (now it's a place to occasionally recover from the stings and arrows). Ergo, others are necessary--but how f..... painful, how wrenching it is to come up against myself with them. And if it's a situation where I'm coming up against myself with others around work I am trying to do, how much more so--though it occurs to me now, at least around the work, that task could be, ultimately, a less trying way to go, because the work is something I can grasp, less slippery, than who-I-am-with-you. The work is a "thing" to work with, that maybe it's possible (though not at all easy) to distinquish from my self? A way to consciousness, without what seems to always become major psychic surgery of self-inspection--or is it self-meddling? No wonder I'm so testy.
I had a lot of dreams about hiding last night (vanishing?), then this forum opportunity presented itself......
ps this seemed a bit like having a mini-write 'on the air,' and I wonder worry about using the forum this way....