The wording of today's mantra differs slightly from some others that I have read and heard about relationships. Some gurus go one step further and refer to every relationship as "a perfect gift." George Burns used to say that happiness is having a large, loving, close-knit family in another city, and Tennessee Williams defined friends as God's way of apologizing to us for our families.
But the all-time, laugh-out-loud classic comment came from my daughter Katie a few years ago while we were sipping iced-tea under the shade of our backyard patio. I was telling her what an emotional mess Bill had been lately over a situation with one of his children—that he was walking around with a little black worry cloud over his head.
"Well that's totally understandable. We can get upset and frustrated and annoyed with other people, but it takes family to really push our buttons. When we're really losing our shit or fighting the urge to haul off and bitch-slap someone, it's usually family."
And that doesn't even touch into lovers and partnerships and marriage and the fire and brimstone and belly crawling through hell those relationships can rain down on our head.
With all that being said, playing well with others has always been one of my strengths. I'm willing to modulate and bend, install mouth filters (believe that one or not), discover and stick to points of convergence, rarely take offense, uplift the energy, and laugh very easily.
On the other side of the equation, this I'll Bend Your Way Formula to stay in harmony sucks for authenticity. I never cease to be in awe at people who show the world one face and let it all hang out all the time: "This is me, love it or fuck off." It's an intriguing sideshow to watch but I'm just not wired that way. Most of the people who think they know me and say they like or even love me have no idea who I really am. In fact, the three closest relationships in my life are the ones with my daughters. We even have tattoos celebrating the tightness of that bond and we call ourselves The Nucleus.
Here we are at Disneyland, wearing the t-shirts I bought as a fun remembrance of our time together. None of us anticipated the non-stop barrage of looks, questions and comments from everyone we met—applause and shouts of "Where did you get them?" from mature women, the stink eye from teenage or 20-something girls, and bug eyes or nervous giggles from all the guys. Even along Santa Monica Boulevard earlier that morning, a young fellow riding a bicycle nearly crashed into a fire hydrant looking back at us.
Which brings us to a much different perspective on relationships that Deepak Chopra shared at a very small SynchroDestiny gathering. He said to think of our consciousness as a gigantic mirror that exploded into the physical world as millions of tiny shards—events, situations, gifts, trials, limitations, wins, losses, loves, hates, relationships—every one of them a reflection of truth about our unseen, unknown Self.
But he didn't stop there. He followed that abstraction with one of my favorite all-time stories. Slipping away from a very large gathering per a side-door exit, he found a woman planted firmly in front of the door of the car that was waiting to whisk him to the hotel. He had no idea how she knew where to be, but this lady was a ball-busting barracuda who demanded his time and attention. Now! Her audacious, relentless onslaught of mental and emotional aggression was unnerving in the moment—but back in his room, the rage he felt about the incident just kept growing.
As a faithful follower of his own teachings—not to mention someone boiling over with righteous anger and resentment that no amount of "compassion" was cooling down—he sat down and wracked his brain to come up with some insight, some window into his own consciousness. He could see absolutely nothing of this woman in himself. Nothing. Not one thing.
So on to Step Two: He grabbed a notepad and began to isolate and describe every quality that set him fuming. Once he had this list of negatives on paper, he knew better than playing the part of his own judge and jury. He called the one person who knew him better than he knew himself. He called Rita.
Deepak was careful to avoid telling his wife any details or setting the stage with a prelude. He just said he was going to read a list of attitudes and behaviors and for her to let him know if she had ever seen any of these things in him or known him to act that way. "Those first few seconds of pure silence on the end of the line told me everything I needed to know."