It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve been traveling, and it always takes me awhile to settle myself back in after I’ve been away.

I had a hard conversation this afternoon, with someone who I’ve had friction with for about a year. We’ve put a lot of energy into trying to resolve things between us, but about 4 months ago we stopped talking altogether and since then it’s been pretty uncomfortable to interact. Which is really difficult to hold in a small community like this. We see each other every day and our lives intersect more than most peoples’.

So this afternoon, finally, after a few months of trying to negotiate an appropriate stand-by mediator and then finding a time that fit all of our schedules, we talked. Face to face, sitting on the floor of a small room with pastel walls and big windows looking out to trees, we talked. I was terrified, and the fear was ambiguous. It wasn’t fear of something specific or fear of some unwanted outcome… I was afraid because I didn’t know what would happen. I couldn’t prepare myself, or study like for an exam. I had to trust that the “answers”, the right things to say, were simply my Truth, what i really thought and felt… and I’m sad that it’s so hard for me to trust myself in that. I’d rather be able to work it all out ahead of time and make sure it makes sense.

I don’t want to hash it all out on the blog. What I really want to write about is my amazement and awe at the power of communication. It’s not like we became friends after an hour of talking, but I see her as more of a real person now. Again. When we weren’t talking, I built up an image of her in my mind, and since i didn’t have any input negating that, that’s who she became to me. I’d see her from across the room and see her as I had constructed her. I assumed she was judging me and then got mad at her for it. And while we were talking today, she became much more real, three dimensional (maybe even four or five) instead of the single facets I was allowing her in my interpretation. My experience of her expanded, like a sponge absorbing water. Content, context… “con”… isn’t that with in Spanish? Chile con queso… And really, that’s it: my experience of her became a “with” experience instead of an “against” experience. We were communicating with each other instead of pitting our defensive selves against each other. I had been coming from a competitive place in our interactions… “it’s either you or me”, “one of us is right and one of us is wrong, and I know I’m not wrong”, “if I give you what you need, then I loose”. That’s the very ideology I’m wanting to dissolve on a large scale! How did I let it have so much power in my personal life? We’ve both been struggling this winter, and the main reason for our struggles seems to be rooted in this competitive mindset. When we finally came together to talk, we were able to be mutually supportive and understanding. It wasn’t “one or the other”, I didn’t “loose” because I was compassionate about her struggles, and I didn’t “win” because I spoke what was true for me. We came to a place where we both felt more comfortable with each other, and we’re still both in a lot of pain.

I’m sad and angry that the competitive mindset has such strong roots in me. Social Darwinists would argue that it’s been necessary in order for survival — I have to put my interests before yours so I can sustain my own life. But that’s simply, yes – simply, not true. Survival depends on collaboration. The root of Life is collaboration, essentially. One person alone can not create life… i.e. it takes two to tango. The Scientific Reduction Principle states that all things can be broken down into smaller and smaller pieces and still retain the properties of that thing — except for Life. There comes a point where a living thing, broken down into smaller and smaller pieces, is no longer alive. A living cell requires the collaboration of all the rhibosomeomes and mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum (I wish I could say I remembered all of that from biology class, but I really had to look it up on google).

Moral of the story: collaboration = the essential nature of Life.

and if you disagree with me, just remember that I’m right and you’re wrong.