Relationships: We're All Connected
Updated: Apr 21, 2020
I recently spent a morning with my 19 month old friend. We had a great time playing and sharing food as we usually do. On this particular day, we shared a grapefruit. Judging by her reaction, I think it was her first experience with grapefruit. I broke a segment in half and offered it to her. She was reluctant to take it and chose to watch me eating my segments. Her piece remained in my palm, available if she decided to try it. Eventually she picked it up, spent some time examining it, pulling out the tiny pieces that make up the segment and placing them in my hand. Eventually she had a taste but her attention was on my hand. I began to move my fingers, closing my fingers around the segment. We began to have fun with me hiding the grapefruit and my friend unfolding my fingers revealing the grapefruit.
As we played, I realized that she was making connections related to her hand and mine. As she watched my hand move, she examined her hand and ventured to imitate my movements. When she matched my movement, she looked at me with a big smile on her face. We removed the grapefruit and continued our exploration of hands. She was now leading this investigation, touching my fingers at their joints, tracing the creases on my palm, manipulating my hand into various positions. She continued to look from her hand to mine and eventually placed her hand on my palm, smiling, pleased with her discoveries.
Something important was happening for both of us. We were silently making deeper connections within our relationship. There was a knowingness that was occurring between us. She was gaining a deeper understanding of her hands and her relationship to others, and so was I. From this deep engagement, we were both realizing our connection as human beings, that reciprocity that happens when one is present with another. A deeper understanding of what it means to be human and what connects us to each other and the world around us.
Such reciprocity is the very structure of perception. We experience the sensuous world only by rendering ourselves vulnerable to that world. Sensory perception is this ongoing interweavement: the terrain enters into us only to the extent that we allow ourselves to be taken up within that terrain. (David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, 2010, p. 58)