Space, Dynamism and Relationships
I watched the NOVA special on Space the other day and one reference caught my attention. The host, Brian Greene, said that most of the universe is made up of space – makes sense, but then he qualified it by stating that atoms are mostly space, and if you sucked out all of the space from the Empire State Building, you would have something the size of a small BB. It would weight hundreds of millions of pounds, but this illustration points out, in a very profound way I think, just how much of a role “space” actually plays in our reality. We are essentially space, but we don't experience ourselves and would certainly not describe ourselves as such – well a few of my high school teachers described me that way. Regardless of the well intentioned, but harm inflicting, misperceptions of the models of adulthood present in my adolescence, as I slow down my thinking patterns and tune deeply into my sense of being, I do feel the spaciousness of my physical existence, and I even sense how it moves and interacts with the accompanying space in the environment. The spaciousness of our existence can feel a little scary and uncertain at times, but it can also feel supportive and holding.
Another point that the program makes is that space is more than nothing – it is in fact something – and it is also dynamic. It bends and changes in relationship to everything else. Einstein apparently blew the Newtonian theories of gravity out of the water with his Special Theory of Relativity, which in part describes the relationship of objects to time and space, and how time and space bend to balance each other out. “The combined speed of any object’s motion through space and its motion through time is always precisely equal to the speed of light.“ This dynamism is inherent in the fabric of our physical existence and represents, at least metaphorically if not directly, our dynamic relationship to everything and everyone in the universe.
It is this dynamism that I want to discuss in terms of our capacity to be in relationship. Being in touch with this inherent dynamism is a key to relationship sustainability. Relationships move and flow and balance their qualities in the same way that time and space do, and the more we can adapt and flow and support that balance, the more securely held the people in the relationship will feel. Restorative practices promote this quality of holding. By naming harms, taking responsibility in the moment, and making intentions for and taking action to mold the future, we are nimbly adapting to the dynamism of our relationship as it unfolds in the moment. Honesty and truthful exchange help to expose the raw dynamic nature of our relationships so that we take responsibility in an authentic way and take actions that effectively support the balance of the determining forces.
Unfortunately instead of being in touch with and in flow with this dynamism, we are often reacting from an unconscious place and are keeping false factors in balance rather than the real ones. Fortunately, it is easy to tell when we are doing this. There is always some form of dishonesty present, some withholding or self protection going on, and a tendency to project responsibility onto others, through blame and/or justification. Our defense mechanisms show up in the presence of vulnerability – in the presence of space. The vulnerability is the thing leading us to the truth and dynamism, so to cover it up with projections takes us out of the game before it even starts. If we can stay with the vulnerability and trust in the holding nature of the space, we will find a more authentic voice. And if we can't, well that's okay too – we simply work with what's happening in this moment and keep trying to show up to it.
What is your experience of space?