Bill Couchenour | Monday, May 02, 2011
What memories stand out for you from high school? Meeting to plan an upcoming reunion got us reminiscing about times and experiences that had escaped my consciousness. I mean, I have a lot of memories from high school and many of them are fun to relive. But the collective recall of former classmates meeting together for the first time in years helped to fill in much of a forgotten past.
One of our tasks was to find the “lost” classmates for whom we had no email or physical address and no Facebook connection. We got out a yearbook to try to remember faces and identities. And, as we did, I realized how many relationships make up our lives. My first date; my first dance; my first crush, my first kiss (all different girls). The guys I cut class with. The guy we locked out on the cafeteria roof. The editor/photographer of the local paper that we’d talk into taking “individuals”. My teachers. My coaches. The guy who caught my touchdown pass to go ahead of Leetonia in the final minutes of the game our senior year. My best friend from high school who’s lived 1,500 miles away since we graduated (he was one of the first I called after I became a Christ follower). And the list goes on.
I have realized that our relationships provide the color and form the texture of our lives.
In Joe Myers’ book, The Search To Belong, he expands on research done by Edward T. Hall that described the proxemics of four spaces of interaction: public, social, personal and intimate. Joe acknowledges the need for relationships in all four spaces saying, “All belonging is significant. Healthy community – the goal humankind has sought since the beginning – is achieved when we hold harmonious connections within all four spaces. Harmony means more public belongings than social. More social than personal. And very few intimate.” Our relationships can be fluid, moving from one space to another, but each adds to our other relationships.
In The Great Good Place by Dr. Ray Oldenburg coined the phrase “Third Place” (essentially the principle Starbucks used to build an empire). First Place was home; Second Place was work; and Third Place was a community space that was characterized as neutral, inclusive, conversationally rich, accessible, non-pretentious, playful and homey. Most importantly they provide a place where we can develop casual relationships – important support for our intimate relationships. Dr. Oldenburg explains, “There is a great difference between intimacy and affiliation, and there is no substituting one for the other. We need both. Lacking intimacy, affiliation becomes little more than a means of dulling the sense of emptiness in our lives. Lacking affiliation, intimacy becomes overburdened even as it risks the dullness of restricted human contact.”
Are you adding color and texture to the canvas of your life through your relationships?
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