As David Hulme noted in the post that launches this new blog, getting relationships right is one of life's most important pursuits. I highly recommend that anyone coming to this blog should begin by reading that post.
Coincidentally, the same day this blog was launched, the afternoon's mail brought a package from a very old and dear friend. Among other things, it contained a very special T-shirt from the 70’s—a souvenir from a concert we had attended together as teens. Now that we each have teens of our own we lead very busy lives, which may partially explain why we’ve lost touch over the past dozen years or so. But of course there is more to it than that. In an enclosure the friend wrote, “we need to try to be more current,” a feat which should be relatively simple considering the fact, as she also pointed out, that we now have amazing technological advances like email.
It’s true, modern life has handed humanity more than a few shortcuts—but then again—it’s also handed us more than a few new responsibilities to multitask our way through, new gadgets to be tied to, and new commitments to make claims on our time. If care is not taken, all of these factors can distract us from nurturing the relationships that protect our communities, our personal support systems and our mental and physical health.
Pepperdine University psychology professor Louis Cozolino reinforces how important relationships are to us. “Our brains rely on other brains to remain healthy,” he says, “especially under stress. When faced with illness, catastrophe, or loss, we turn to each other for comfort, regulation, and stability. Resilience—our ability to cope with life’s ups and downs—is closely tied to the extent and quality of our support systems.”
Too casually sometimes, we promise ourselves that “when we have time” we’ll write that friend we’ve been neglecting, or we’ll spend quality time with our spouse or children, as if these are tasks of the same priority level as say—doing laundry or mowing the lawn. We may tell ourselves, “If I don’t get to it this week, I can do it next week.”
In reality, our families and other relationships should have the same importance to us as eating and sleeping. These are not luxuries—these are the things we must have in order to live and breathe.
My friend was right to say we “need” to try to be more current, and I took her remonstrance to heart. At least this time, I didn’t tell myself I’d write her back “when I have time.” An actual, hand-written note was dropped in the mail to her just before I sat down to write this post.
|Vision's Donna Butler reviews four books that explore how modern life can sometimes distract us from giving the right kind of attention to our relationships.|