Here’s†another installment†in a series of emails that took place between Michael and one of his senior students beginning the Summer of 2009. May you find the exchange interesting and enriching.
Student: Since our last talk, itís like everything, on the one hand, is easier and makes more sense. Itís like Iím seeing big picture and small frame more easily. Sometimes itís as if I see them at the same time even. But there are also sticking points that worry me.
Michael: Like what?
Student: Like how friendships are being reconfigured in a huge way. Weíve talked about this a lot over the last year, I know, but as this practice has heated up, many of my friendships are just slipping away, and Iím letting them. This is mostly because I donít relate like I used to, or maybe because I find relating on the surface level so uninteresting and Iíd rather be alone. So, now Iím often alone.
Michael: Do you feel lonely when youíre alone?
Student: Some times, but not nearly as often as I would have just a couple of years back. In fact I was thinking about this just the other day how I feel so very content.
Michael: So whatís your greatest concern?
Student: Is it dishonest to keep a friendship alive just because sometimes I donít want to be alone, but not necessarily because this relationship represents the deepest truth?
Michael: Letting go of friendships can involve both non-participation as well as limited participation, as well as full participation. The trick is being fully there when you are with someone. When we are fully present, we get to take on as much or as little of whatever offering is being made. Then we get to decide what to do.
The cautionary note is that harm can occur and ours and othersí light can be dimmed if we make participatory choices based on some unexamined need to†anesthetize†ourselves from the pain of†loneliness. Just participate fully based on whatever is being offered, then choose consciously how to respond.