Distance and Reflection

My thoughts on Christmas about relationships and what seems to be important in life.

Distance and Reflection (2020)
Distance and Reflection (2020) Fujifilm X100F 23mm@F5.6 1/90s ISO 800

Sometimes I distance myself to reflect calmly and sometimes I distance myself because I have reflected calmly.

Even though “to think about” would be the proper translation of “nachdenken” I feel that “to reflect” captures the essence of the saying better

Mirrored on a blackboard

I found this piece of blackboard outside the local college and the saying on it reflected quite deeply with me. I had started to take steps back from a world that was being dominated by work and consumption. I wanted to put more focus on connecting with people, touching each other’s soul (and in some cases touching quite literally) and learning from each other.

A couple of months before I reflected on someone and decided to distance myself which was pretty difficult. But then I did not reflect calmly but acted emotionally and almost irrational. Nevertheless it was the right choice but in all fairness I did not have much choice in it anyways.

Free to choose but also alone?

This blackboard also reminded me of my parents who after careful reflection are no longer part of my life. My father because he never really wanted me at all and later had the audacity to demand my acceptance of his behavior without any kind of apology. My mother because she is trapped in her own maelstrom of troubles and tends to draw everyone around her in. It would be a constant mental drain for me with little upside from having these relationships. I have forgiven them and let them go.

Christmas is traditionally seen as the time for family and people have often asked me how I deal without contact to my parents. I should keep in contact because of who they are. But this is not how I see relationships be it with family, friends or lovers. In today’s world we are free to leave unsatisfying or even toxic relationships even when it is family. Thankfully we are less and less dependent on them in adult life.

It might sound sad but it is actually good. Being able to leave people behind makes us appreciate it the more when we do stay. It makes us behave better because we can less and less demand connection due to familial obligations. We can decide if some relationships are worth it or not. Maybe this makes us all a little bit more alone when we leave people behind more often than in earlier times. But it also makes us able to choose good relationships with the knowledge gained from it.

Take time to think calmly

This brings me back to today. There are new people coming into my life with differing degrees of interest. I want to take the time and distance to reflect calmly but I hope I don’t have to distance myself again because of my reflections. What I learned from the last time when I had to distance myself to reflect is that honesty and openness are the key to meaningful connections. It was lacking the last time. It seems to be there this time.

With these reflections I wish you all a few thoughtful days over the holiday no matter whatever you might celebrate. Cherish the people in your life, embrace new relationships and maybe sometimes let go of them when necessary.