I like thinking in continuums or spectrums. It helps me hold a lot of information in a relevant string. Maybe you do the same, Blogairs. For instance, there is the political spectrum from the far left ultra liberals to center of the road moderates to far right wing conservatives. Way out on the edges are folks we call radicals or wing nuts. This sort of structure is like a shopping bag: it helps you carry a bunch of dissimilar things at once.
Now some people and things don’t play well together, like bleach and fresh meat. So the sharp cashier/bagger double bags those items and puts them in separate bags for hygiene and safety reasons. There are other considerations with groceries. You can’t put the eggs or potato chips on the bottom of a heavy bag without crushing them. The same approach is helpful with political extremists who cannot be in the same room at the same time without gunfire erupting or fists flying. The most fragile folks in our society need to be put on the top of the social priorities bag, even though they are not the economic engine that drives our society forward. Indeed, they are the least. Great human societies are not measured by how fast the fastest can run, but by how they care for the weakest and slowest in their land. The sane among us do not look at the Nazis’ achievements by their best and brightest members and stand in awe. Rather, we shudder at their efforts to exterminate the fragile, vulnerable, and different among them. Somehow our governing folks must find ways to unify the extremists with the moderates and the lefts and rights just long enough to get to the car trunk without splitting open. I’m not sure if this means we need bigger, heavier, doubled-up paper government or stronger, transparent plastic government. What do you think? Paper or plastic?
Another spectrum I like to consider is that of communication. At one end is abusive, derisive, condemning speech. Such speech divides rather than unifies two or more persons; it’s anti-communication. In the middle would be silence. And then (this is where I like to spend time with clients) there is a rising slope of positive communication that moves toward unity or oneness. My screen is not wide enough to show the slope, so let’s go vertically from least to greatest.
Non verbal nod, eye contact, smile, or wave. At least acknowledge the other.
“Yo” “Hi” “Hello” “Howdy” “Bueno” “Good””What’s up?” “How are you?”
If you happen to be waiting for the light to change or you find yourself waiting in line together, you might engage in the shallow end of the communication pool. Let’s begin with the generic.
“Can you believe this weather? I am so sick of rain.”
“Yep, gotta cut the grass again today, if it ever dries out.”
Or if it’s two women…
“Oh, I like your shoes.”
“Oh, these? I got them at Kohl’s, 30 % off plus I got twenty dollars in coupons.”
“No way! Ohhhh. I gotta get me some of that!”
Now two guys.
“Dude, what happened to your head? Did you have brain surgery or what?
“No, it’s a faux hawk, man. My girlfriend says she likes it.”
Then, after shallow chat, folks may find a common interest in sports or church, movies, music or friends they have in common. This is better but still shallow. It’s potato chip chat versus baked potato conversations.
“How about the Orioles? Think they’ll make it this year?”
“It’s all about pitching. Gotta have a bullpen in August.”
“Hey, you’re all tan. Did you just get off a cruise ship?”
“Oh jah, man. I been to the islands.”
“Roger, you live in Orrstown. Cut the Bob Marley act.”
Deeper stuff beckons us, however, past the chips and dip chats. Onward we swim toward the shrimp and crab legs. Kick, stroke, kick, stroke, work it.
To get more relational requires personal knowledge being shared. So talking about family and close friends draws us past the floaty dividers in the pool.
“How is your daughter Eve doing in college?”
“She’s decided on pre-med and that she is a lesbian.”
“Oh. So what’s that mean for you?”
“I’m not sure. It takes some getting used to different expectations.”
“And how about your son, Adam? Did he work through his situation with drugs?”
“Well, he’s clean but he’s in prison for three years in Camp Hill.”
“Oh. Well, let me buy you a beer, man. Life is hard.”
Obviously the blood pressure can rise when you or the other drops the social mask and reveal vulnerabilities. Trust is necessary at this depth. Confidentiality is implied. “I don’t tell everyone this stuff and neither should you” is understood.
Deeper and deeper we swim into the big uglies– fear, anger, sadness. Being able to listen to another’s uglies or being comfortable expressing your own is remarkable communication. You’ll notice that the circle of folks in this water hole is smaller but the folks in it are bigger in character. They own their feelings but not yours. They respect boundaries. They are emotionally responsible, which is refreshing.
Way out there where the waves begin to break is so private. That’s where sexual communication takes place. Hopefully it’s a small number of folks you know out there and only one at a time. Yes? Sexual communication is dense and powerful. It goes beyond words into the body and heart. Even breathing can be sexually charged.
Finally, on the other side of sexual communion, I believe, is spiritual union. In the ecstatic moments where one leaves the body, what is operating? I suggest that it is the spirit, stripped free from the body ever so briefly. Folks soar or float in sexual bliss, and I submit that they are entering the spiritual realm during these experiences. By joining with another person’s mental, emotional and physical communications, you move beyond them and arrive at the unlimited, unbound spirit.
I just passed my thousand word guide, so I’ll leave this spectrum right here, in need of some gilding.