A long time ago … like say back when I was 45 … somebody asked me what I thought the three most important things in life were. I ruminated about it. I contemplated health and happiness and success and prosperity and puppies and wine and then I answered: “The three most important things in life are relationships, relationships and relationships.
I still stand by that answer.
Because it seems to me that most everything else can be fleeting. Happiness ebbs and flows. Always. I mean I know some pretty happy people but they’re not always happy. Success and prosperity are lovely but I’ve met enough rich, famous and miserable folks to know it’s not the be-all and end-all. Certainly good health is huge and something we should all strive for and never take for granted. And puppies and wine? Well heck, yeah, I’m all for both.
But for me it is relationship that sustains me. Relationship stirs my soul. Relationship brings meaning to my existence. Relationship is my jam.
Now you’ve probably noticed that I say relationship and not relationships. I do this on purpose. Because not all relationships sustain me or stir my soul. Some are downright draining and need to be reexamined and/or discarded. Some are peripheral and that’s exactly where they shall remain. Some are profound and life-altering and some are magical. And some are just fun.
But when I say relationship what I mean is connection. Alliance. Understanding. Affinity. Kinship. That indefinable “thing” that draws two people together and then (more importantly) keeps them together. Because together brings so much more substance to their individual existences than separate.
I’m not just talking about romantic relationship here. I’m talking about ALL relationship. Familial, friendship, sexual and even work.
Which brings me to O. O has spent a good part of his life building up his business. Working long, hard hours. Pouring his sweat and guts into every endeavor. Persevering with grit and gumption as the years rolled by. What O neglected to do was devote a similar amount of energy to his relationships. He became defined by his success and his place in the accomplishment hierarchy and forgot to invest in his people. Not his employees. His personal people.
And then his life began to unravel. Too much stress, too many changes, too much uncertainty and OMG middle age to boot. And now O can’t comprehend why nothing makes him happy. Nothing brings him joy. Not the fancy house or the fancy car or the prestige that comes with his huge accomplishment.
Because (in my humble opinion) work will never sustain you. Work will augment your life, work will earn you a nice place to live, work will provide you with a sense of productivity and worth and work will at the very least put groceries in your fridge. But it will not sustain you. It will not fill your soul with wholeness.
That’s a job for relationship. Deep authentic relationship. Not fluffy, shallow meaningless camaraderie.
Deep authentic relationship.
A few years ago my mother was talking to my son about relationships. Specifically his romantic relationship (at that time) but it really does work for all relationships. She said “Relationships are like a bank account. You make deposits and you make withdrawals. Just make sure you always put in more than you take out.”
Oh my mother was such a smart woman.
O has made most of his deposits into his business account. He has made a few too many withdrawals from his personal account. And now he is flailing. Floundering. Gasping for breath.
Because the oxygen he needs can only be provided by …
I’m never going to tell you what to do or think or how to act or how to feel. I write this blog so that I can clarify my own thoughts and maybe help you clarify yours.
I’m not sure that reading these words could help O. Maybe, maybe not.
I just hope that you, dear reader, can deposit your resources wisely. For today and tomorrow.