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By Sat Purkh Kaur Khalsa
Interrelationship by Thich Nhat Hanh
“You are me, and I am you.
Isn't it obvious that we "inter-are"?
You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.
I support you;
you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
you are in this world to bring me joy.”
I got married for the first time at the age of 43. To say it has been an adjustment would be an obvious understatement, but after the initial “unnecessary roughness,” we began to work it out—to find each other’s rhythms and respect them—to figure out when to say something and when to let it go—to foster affection and communication, especially when you don’t feel like it.
With that said, I spent the first three months of marriage wondering how fairy tales ever came into being. The reality of marriage was so foreign to the romantic tales you grow up with, it was literally a shock to my system. I didn’t recognize this thing I’d agreed to do FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE! It didn’t feel like love, or what I had come to believe love was. But I also knew that my past record was all the proof I needed; I was not an expert in these matters. In fact, I was a novice. My past relationships were marked by radical swings between neediness/insecurity and controlling/vindictive behavior. I was a mess when it came to “love.”
When I finally let go of the idea of ever being with someone else, I had the time and space to finally be with me—to start loving myself. And it’s an unfinished process, a journey. And now that I’m married, I find that the work I did when I was single is just as important now, if not more important. The only difference is that now I do it not only for myself but also for him, which is sticky territory. Once you begin to externalize your motivation for transformation, you’re lost. And it’s very difficult to find your way home again, to the self and to the soul. At the same time, creative love, love that has energy and vitality and movement, wants to flower, to be beautiful, to transform and support. Creative love wants to be the harbinger of peace and joy. Creative love is the beginning of amalgamation—interrelationship.
My first teacher described marriage like this: take two rocks, jagged edges and all, and throw them into a jar. Start shaking. Thirty years later you open the jar and find smooth polished stones. But of course, all that shaking and rattling and rolling can be extremely uncomfortable to say the least. It sometimes feels like you’re in the middle of an erupting volcano, but then you laugh and realize it’s only your own ego boiling over. And this recognition of my own ego—and his—and the willingness to take responsibility for my own reactions is the greatest part of interrelationship. I can’t depend on him alone to bring me happiness; he can’t depend on me alone to bring him peace. But we offer those things to one another out of love, creative love.
And we continue to look at our own part so that the other won’t have to suffer unnecessarily. We support each other in being beautiful and kind and generous and compassionate. And when we don’t, we challenge each other to be better. And as we continue to build this trust, this capacity to both sustain and challenge one another, we become we. We “inter-are” and that is a beauty all its own, which we call “marriage.”
Sat Purkh Kaur Khalsa has been singing for as long as she can remember. Her music focuses on using sound to move the body, the mind and the breath toward powerful transformative experiences that uplift the individual and serve the soul.