In today’s modern hurly-burly, one thing that I am always seeing people forget [or never learn] is that as much as one may want to get deep real quick, the truth is, that … it takes time.
We’ve all had moments that have hit us in the heart – times when something touched us in an instant, and that instant remained frozen forever in our memory. These intimate moments are indeed very important. They are callings to something higher.
But we cannot live in a state of genuine intimacy on these moments alone. Yet that is what I am seeing in modern society, when I look around; a situation in which people desperately search for a connection to things more intimate mainly through experiencing some shocking / touching / moving / jarring event. And this does have great value – but this “watershed event” is only one step on the road to lasting intimacy. It is important to experience such moments in the way it is important that a pizza have a crust. You won’t make good pizza if you focus on nothing but the crust.
If you want real intimacy, you must take time. You must meditate on the things that aren’t cool to think about, in addition to the awesome stuff. You must leave space for the aftermath of your new experiences to take root, in addition to plunging into those new experiences. Like anything else, it is a balancing act; sometimes, when you’ve been into something for too long, it’s time to go back and search for something radically different. But the overall trend in today’s world – with text messaging and tweets and Facebook comments run amok – is to completely ignore the longer term significance of what we go through. It becomes all about how something feels in the moment. But if, in the next moment, the way one feels can change so quickly, how much meaning do these events really have?
Moreover, we often don’t realize that by taking on this culture of instantaneous stimulation, we are giving up a lot of power. When it appears that nothing that we go through ever really sticks with us – nay, when we aren’t even thinking about what will stick with us – we are giving up the choice that we have to be active participants in the creation of our future memories. You and everyone around you is getting older, constantly going through new experiences and making new memories all the time. Many of us don’t like the thought of getting older – but anybody who is older and successful will tell you that there is no reason to believe that the prime of your life has to be when you were young. As much as the thought of growing older is fought against and disparaged, it really shouldn’t be. When done right, growing older is just like any other time in a person’s life; there are ups and there are downs. And yes – there are “right ways to grow older.” And trying to only stay in the intense jarring sensations of the present moment without getting to a deeper, more time-intensive level of intimacy is not one of them.
Wanting real, deep intimacy without putting the time into is is like wanting the sun without the rain, like wanting good food without the effort necessary to make it … it doesn’t work that way. And it works less and less that way every time you press the “quick intimacy” button … the return on “instant connectification” shrinks a bit each time. That’s when you know that you have actually found an inconvenient level of comfort with shocking and/or watershed events – when they’re not longer what you sought them out for.
None of us knows when we’re going to die – but you aren’t dead until you’re dead, and the process of getting to that point can often take a long time! Why discount your older years as being a time when you’re just going to shrivel up and lose your sense of self, especially given that you don’t know when this process is going to start to take place? It could be a very long time yet! It’s pretty likely that you’ve still got a great deal of time. And if you don’t well – there’s no way to know this beforehand.
So don’t be afraid to use that time wisely. To use it to get a deeper sense of yourself and your relation to everything around you that is not transitory; things that will stay with you, and form the basis not just for good memories, but for good living memories in the future, also. If you really want to find meaning in life, this is often the place to start – especially if you have gotten caught up in the modern collective sense of flailing aimlessness. You don’t have to be prisoner to tradition and sameness, not at all – it’s just a question of remembering that (1) true intimacy has a price and opportunity cost that you must sign up for if you really want it, and (2) the price is totally worth it.