"Freedom is not the absence of commitments, but the ability to choose - 
and commit myself to - what is best for me." Paulo Coelho

Relationship in all its forms are about choice - intentional choice to be in community, to remain in connection, and to maintain contact. Relationships means to choose someone over, and over, and over again - time after time, without fail. When we do don’t choose people that is us effectively losing them, whether it be through choosing others, or permitting a conscious/unconscious uncoupling. Either way choice has to be an active decision, one that requires effort, sustainment, and commitment. Choice must be demonstrated. Choice must be renewed periodically. Choice must be refreshed consistently. Choice is personal. It's individual, nuanced, and specific. When we choose without gravity, sincerity, or gumption, those are the choices that are easiest to give up on. When we choose without the full force of our hearts, spirits, and souls there is not enough substance there to  be preserved. Choice means sacrifice. Choice has to cost us. Choice entails giving something -whether it be our time, effort, energy, presence, love, care, support, money, etc. Choice is an investment in another person, and one that does not come with a moneyback guarantee or a payout. It's a risk, but one that is almost always worth taking. 

Choose people to be in your life who choose you back. More often than not, chose people who reciprocate. We can choose people but them choosing us back has to be their prerogative, and that choose back is something words can never truly embody. Choice goes both ways. Choice has duality. Choice is a constant reifiying and affirmation of said choice. It’s a renewal of proverbial vows of sorts. It’s a conscious decision to think about, care for, and love unconditionally those that you have made space to be part of your life and your life story. It's an awareness that you carry with you always that you have people that matter to you; and that keep you steady, lift you up, and hold you down. It's a perspective that you are connected to another life beyond all confines, barriers, and deterrents. There's something amazing in the literal sense of the word. There's an awe that comes with it. There's this indescribable feeling to be in the presence of someone who values, appreciates, celebrates, validates, champions you, and for whom you do the same. In a world of antagonism, derision, and survivalism - a bond to band together is a courageous one. As much as we are able, we should choose others and hope they choose us back. 

Making friends is process that never ends unless we want it to, and it really is one that should never end. The moment we close ourselves off to others is when we lose things two-fold, that is the opportunity to add more people to our life stories and all that they bring with them, and the chance to share who we are and what we have to offer with others. We have to be open to new relationships of all kinds. We have to give people the chance to be a choice for us. We have to also let ourselves be a choice for others. We can never know who we'll end up choosing if we never grant others the chance to know us and to be known. There are too many people in the world for us to ever shut down relationships. Every person we meet has the potential to be someone with significance in our lives, if we allow and want them to be. Maybe we have the fear that us choosing new people means we have not chosen those who have been with us longer, and that does not have to be the case. In fact, it's quite the opposite, choosing new people forces us to reimagine those we have chosen previously. It makes us think about who we're choosing, why, and how we keep choosing them again and again. 

We get to choose who we let into our lives. We get to build our chosen family. Family gets to be whatever we define it as. We get to construct our own reality. We get to surround ourselves with whoever we like. We get to build our advisory board of voices, perspectives, opinions, expertise, and experience that give us what we need, and even what we don't know we need. Our chosen family are those that we love unconditionally. It's the people who pop into our heads and we smile. It's the people that support, challenge, and jubilate us. They recognize, not accept nor tolerate, who we are. They make efforts to understand us as we are.They offer critique that comes from a place of authenticity and benevolence. They seek to advance us. They are the move mountains, traverse continents, make time, put in effort, and go above and beyond to ensure we get to be our best us. The love they show us is something exceptionally rare, wonderfilled, and profound. There's an underlying silience about them and the mundanity that surrounds their awe. It's xeno moment after xeno moment where that connectivity that holds us together sparks like a heartworm of latent embers, perpetually smoldering ablaze. Find our chosen family is subtly easy, they are usually all around us and  almost always close by. It's who we turn to first. Who we communicate with often or who we go there with. It's who we let in, no who we invite in, and who we let live in the homes that is our hearts. Hold them tight, and never let them go. Family is who we say it is. There is agency, freedom, and liberation in that. Take ownership of it. The constraints of family are what we say they are. Embrace it, relish in it. 

I spent a weekend reconnecting with a variety of people from my life adventure in Boston and it was one of most poignant experiences I have had in a long while. I felt reinvigorated, inspired, and indulged. There is nothing like the embrace of someone you care for immensely. I found myself grinning from ear to ear, full of energy, light, and hope, and most of all engaging in the conversation that provided sustenance for my soul. What a gift it was to be able to dialogue, candidly, and to be both challenging and challenged in said conversations. That’s what distinguishes purposeful relationships from others. The ability to dive deeper, to be unrestricted, to be both comfortable and simultaneously uncomfortable so that learning/growth happen all the while. The people that are chosen to be in your life must be those that you have trusted with the authenticity of who you are; it is in that vulnerability that truth, perception shifting, and dynamic dialogue happens. It is where change happens, no matter how subtle, for all involved because those conversations are grounded in mutual confidence. There is an inherent assurance that those who have chosen to be part of your life not only want to be there, but are there for a reason. That reason is to bring you the dynamic truths that you need. 

I think about my coworkers and colleagues and the ways in which those relationships have become significant in my life because they allow me to bring my whole self to work. It's the quiet moments amidst all the organized chaos of what we do where we get real, the outside world gets let in, and life gets to be full. Between work-out trolling, closed door commentary, outdoor excursions, food runs, and the social media inside jokes, these people have chosen me. And for me these choices stand out because we don't get to choose who we work with, and for them to also be your friends makes a world of difference. They don't have to be friendly let alone be a friend - and there's a distinct difference. It's the thoughtfulness, the checking in, and the remembering that communicate that I matter to them. It's this sense of community and togetherness that produces phenomenal results. Letting them in has been a challenge for me but one that has paid of dividends beyond my wildest imagination. 

My time spent forging relationships in grad school proved to be pivotal as we all went our separate ways. Those I made sure to stay connected to did the exact same with me. Most prominently was me being chosen to take care of my nephew (grad school supervisor's toddler) while they added to their family. That to me, entrusting me with the care of their beloved little prince, signified a remarkable choice to be in relationship in the most personal of ways. And all the people that I have chosen to take with me through high school, college, and the excursions along the way that continually choose me, even when I don't deserve them,  or don't do enough to choose them back surround me with a legion of chosen family and friends that surrounds me near, and far. It is something I am immensely grateful for. Stopping to think about those people that stay with me, and those that I stay with in return, is one of the most awe-inducing things I am trying to practice. Relationships are about intentional choice so I have to be intentional in giving them the care, nourishment, and love they deserve. I choose me. I choose my people. I choose love, to give love, to be open to love, and to be loved. X


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