"Space travel is life-enhancing, and anything that's life-enhancing is worth doing. It makes you want to live forever." Ray Bradbury
Space - the final frontier. Positing life as a representation of space and all its wonders has come to be a useful metaphor for understanding the world. We are all the center of our own universes, or at least we're supposed to be. Sometimes we aren't. What happens when others in our experiences are centered in our lives or we don't perceive ourselves to be in the middle of our existences? My therapist called it a sort of a blackhole effect where the position that we should be finding ourselves in is instead occupied by a force that seems nearly impossible to overcome. Usually it has to do with children and not being fully positioned in the center of their lives growing up that forces them to take care of themselves sooner than usual, essentially becoming a full-grown star early. It's gravitational pull drawing absolutely everything that comes into proximity with it in to be engulfed in blackness. There's something to be said about restoring the balance of our universes in recentering ourselves. We matter, our lives matter, and how we live our lives matters. Every single person we meet has a universe of their own that is intricately complex and unique. We are constantly entering, exiting, traversing, etc. the universes of other people just like they are doing the same to us. We must take care in how we do so lest we upset the balance for catastrophic consequences.
People have different pulls on our life. Must like the unseen forces that keep the planets, their moons, and other celestial bodies revolving around our scalding hot yellow sun - gravity holds us in relation to others. There are those we know to have strong influence of the ebbs, flows, tides, and the like of our lives. Even more so, there are those whose forces we may not notice or understand but nonetheless have an impact on us. Working to understand the significance of our connections to others and vice versa is crucial to maintaining our cosmos. That can mean so many things but interrogating our relationships, seeking to honor their place, and challenging the order of it all is crucial. Why are people in our lives? What role do they play? How do they impact us? What do we feel in interacting with them? What and how have we learned from them?
In asking ourselves those questions, or even more powerfully asking others how they experience our connection, we can elucidate the meaning of our communities. There is a watershed moment where when we share who we have known others to be that makes us pause. We don't lose anything by telling people who they've been to us. People need to know what their presence in our lives means, benevolent or otherwise. What's stopping us then from taking it one step further and communicating what we may need or want from others? Can we tell the people in our concentric circles of connectivity that they are important to us for specific reasons, that we're not quite getting what we're looking for, or that their pull is too much? Things left unsaid remain unspoken, but we cannot expect others to know the force they present to us if we never tell them.
There's this need, real or perceived, to perform and to be on. The sun doesn't take a day off from shining. If we're the center of our solar systems who else will fulfill that role if we don't? Being "on" is not a way to live though. Many of us work until we burn out and have just about exhausted our light. We go dark for period of time, try to muster up the necessary energy to shine on, and keep going. Finding a happy medium between blazing to burnout and dimming our light to last longer seems hopeful. Instead of having to turn it on or off, finding a place where we feel comfortable in ourselves and how we're showing up, while performing in the ways that the world asks us to seems ideal. Less pressure and more authenticity to flow from it. Being in place where we both get to be us, and not exert ourselves excessively regularly feels reasonable.
But how? That's an ongoing question for us to figure out. It's worth looking out where we feel the need to survive, and instances where we wholeheartedly thrive. We're not meant to operate out of survival constantly - in fact it should be a rarity. Doing so is a prolonged response to either internalized traumatizing experiences, or external factors. Life can be challenging but feeling the need to fight for our lives does not and should not be our everyday experience. Crafting a life that challenges us but also provides us with the supportive scaffolding necessary for us to succeed is an ongoing endeavor. Much of that infrastructure or at least a safety comes in the form of those within our orbit.
Interlocking solar systems create our universe. People are the same way. Sometimes we are not as significant as we believe or even imagine ourselves to be to others, and sometimes still we are more significant to the lives of others than they readily realize or can admit. What a blow it can be to come to the realization that someone we thought valued us devalues us or doesn't value us in the slightest. Then again, it can also be surprising when people place us closer to them as a sun than we expect. It's either heartening moment of appreciation or a confusing one. The best solar systems are founded on mutuality. People in the orbit of people who marvel, appreciate, and elevate one another. Synergy to revolve around each other instead of one being the epicenter of a universe.
There's always the uncertainty of adding new people to our systems of cosmic wonder. We question of will they stay and become a dependable fixture of our sky full of stars or are they an eclipse or celestial event just passing through. It be so painful to place hope in someone sticking around for the long haul only for them to disappear just as quickly as they arrived. It's all the hype of a new discovery that ends up dissipating upon arrival. How can we tell who is here to stay or at least visit for a while? It's those that declare their presence, those that show up, and those that come back time and time again. If there's no gravity what's to keep us in orbit? We need substance, depth, and reality. We need to share stories, make memories, or have some sort of common connection. We can also just tell people that we want them in our lives, and avoid any need for interpretation.
What a juxtaposition to have those meta moments of being physically surrounded by other people but to feel alone. It's this heightened awareness that you are literally central where you are and also simultaneously on the outskirts. The cognitive dissonance is astounding. What an ordeal to know you are surrounded by people who care about you but you also feel disconnected, even if only for a brief moment. Knowing when "it's about you" and when it's not really the time for it to be so takes practice. I think there's way in which it might always be some semblance of both. What we have gong on for us, what we're carrying, and what occupies our head-spaces is significant, if only to us, let alone how it all impacts how we show up for/with others. And, and, and having the social awareness to know the time, place, and audience for it to be about us matters. We don't want to monopolize the time or attention of others, just as we don't want to alter the feel of a space. We do need to occupy space and to be fully present with our entireties where we are. Understanding the moments to be vulnerable, and how much to be is a learned skill. It takes practice. We have to mess up, take risks, and give ourselves grace. Holding back only holds us back when connection and community are all around us. The question is do we trust the people in our orbit to honor our truths? X