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The Loving Task...

We come into this world alone and so we leave it. Each of us having our own experience of this life.  And it seems to me that we vie for connection from the moment we get here until the moment we leave.  Each of us searching for a companion, a life long love, a trusted confidant, a loving presence with which to share ourselves and our lives.


It is amazing how often we get this wrong.  And it is equally amazing when we get it right.  I guess the most common thing is that we all endeavor for the same thing, while we all, get it so wrong along the way.  And despite all of our attempts and mistakes and false starts, I can’t think of one person I know who isn’t still trying, at least in some capacity.


“For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other.”  Rilke.


When I read this quote many years ago, I felt immediately let down.  We are to do all this work, only to have the ultimate task be asked of us to preserve and defend the solitude of another?  Why bother really?


But the longer I have lived, the more this quote rings true.  That truly loving someone causes you to feel the need to protect and to have your own solitude protected by the one you love most in this world.  To still have a sphere of privacy in thought and action, to not be asked or required to give up that internal dialogue within yourself that exists only between you and God.


“The highest task for a bond” says to me that we must submit to this task in order to preserve the bond.  We cannot demand that the other give up and relinquish their own need for solitude and peace.  We must, instead, protect it as if it were our own.  We must all respect there is a zone within ourselves that defies entry and so it must be with the others, any others we come to love.


I know I need the time to myself.  This solitude to write, to walk, to think, to be.  I need it every single day.  And when my schedule conflicts and prevents me from having this time, I miss it as I miss a lover who consumes me.  It is almost like I do not feel myself, when I am deprived of time with myself to just be and live.  Suddenly this time with myself becomes the only thing I seek, the only thing I need and the only place I know that will provide me peace.


And so it is with me, then likely so it is with you too.  And if I love you, then it is my ardent duty to do all that I can to protect your solitude and peaceful abiding with yourself.  In fact, I know it is the only way we can ever continue forward on our joined path.  A loving and peaceful caretaking of our own and each other’s solemn solidarity of solitude.


There are so many loving tasks required of us when we love another.  To be present, available. To honor, respect, cherish and forsake.  But this most simple and basic defense of solitude goes without mention or even discussion all too often.  And perhaps that is what underlies the divorce rate today.  We are all jumping into relationships but missing this most basic and fundamental task.  This task that really cements the validity of all others - this idea that we each must always be responsible for the preservation of our own internal landscape...our own internal space in which to breathe, reflect, live and love eventually.  And so it stands that the highest and most functional task asked of one loving partner to another is to make the quiet and important agreement for the protection of solitude is not a solitary task when in loving partnership with another...but a shared responsibility...a shared commitment that largely goes unspoken...and perhaps it really should not.


I know the places within myself that need only my own reflection, the necessity of keeping that pool within me still and without rancor or disturbance is the wellspring of all I have to offer you, this other I love and cherish and invite into my most inner sanctum.  Be you friend or lover or child, this invitation into my own interiority always begs for you to understand and respect this constant and unwavering need I shall always have to be alone with my solitude as often as I require, and if I love you at all, I shall understand your need for this as well.


I woke up this morning without an idea for today’s topic...but stumbled across this quote I wrote down sometime ago, and now sit in silent repose, knowing that this quote permitted me access to some new level of being within myself.  And because I am capable of owning this within myself, perhaps I might come to understand you as well.  And within this shared understanding we might love each other better, with more actual sentiment and love than we were previously capable.


And might we continue to delve into the solitude that creates a space for living and loving in all.  And may we each find source within that allows for a more loving connection without.  Perhaps this is our most basic, fundamental and loving task...to honor with protection this most intimate connection within ourselves while also honoring this same space within those we love most.


Again.


Still.






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