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Edmund Hillary, the first man to conquer the scary and challenging Mt. Everest, was once asked: You scaled the worlds top peak, but you could not remain on the top. Why? He smiled, the Sisypusian, and said: conquering heights is easy when it comes to retaining them. In every struggle of our life, be it professional or personal, material or immaterial, physical or spiritual- we always strive to reach the apex. We continue striving for it- the eternal strife- but yet fall short from keeping it.
These strivings lead us into the struggles of knowing. Somedays ago a friend of mine wrote a beautiful FB status on knowing and understanding. While differentiating both of these terms as different this friend concluded that knowing is knowledge, understanding is wisdom. While I agree to the later part, I would like to focus on the initial statement: Knowing is essentially interrelated to understanding- not different process like A and B. Without knowledge there is no wisdom and without wisdom no knowledge can exist. But I’m not going into this ontological debate. Tonight i am in mood to analyze the intertwined threads of knowing, understanding and retaining relationship heights.
“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”— Barry Finlay
Relationships– be they professional, personal or social — are part of our varied needs. Each of them start with the thrust to know, understand and conquer the rules, the team member(s), and the dynamics. Yes, conquer- humans are basically greedy to power-thats why only the fittest survive. In relationships, the conquering part sabotages most of the relationship-leaving only the best, which are therefore cherished by those who walk the extra mile of struggles to abstain from being greedy.
In a professional relationship – we work our ass off and try it hard to know the job needs, the boss’s need, and colleagues behaviors, needs and their ways. In the beginning we are cool with whatever is there- because we enter in the ‘zero state’. But gradually as we begging to gather tits and bits of information, we begin to understand them. At a certain point, we reach a point, where we think that we have understood them very well and try to use this wisdom to control things around. But at this very time, our job, our boss and our colleagues ( now friends) also do the same. Now here is the struggle. At the time when we think that we have known every bit of behavior, this un-accounted struggle of newly surfaced desires, brings us back to level zero. If we think that it was worthy to continue- we start again from the basics, or just walk away.
Before exploring ‘Why’ part of this hypothesis lets talk about personal/social relationships.
Our parents, yes they are the best to know us and I feel they are the ones whom we know the best. It is with them that we rarely have this last-moment struggle. And it is obivious-because as someone who brought and raised us, they interact with our needs as guardian- willful to sacrifice. So when there is no opposition- there is no conflict.
In intimate relationships like that of lovers, this dynamics is more evident. Starting from flirting interactions to having sexual interactions, constitute the whole of knowing and understanding process. Even after remaining together for a whole lot of years together, we find some relationships trail out. We find some of them quarreling over nothing-so-much important. Even though initially longing to belong or to be possessed, some end up hating the obligation to belong or the tendency of being taken as possession.
One of the most important relationship ingredients is maintaing distance and preserving/respecting personal space. Yes, this one is the most important aspect- when we do so, we provide enough space for our bosses, colleagues, friends, lovers, and our parents to have their own space and by extension we also seek our own space. As we mature into relationship, providing constructive feedbacks, understanding need for personal space, becomes more acute to sustain the height scaled. The extent of compromise on the breaching of personal space at the initial days of a relationship should not be expected in the autumn days. It is our desire to know and thereby to understand each other that we become tolerant of someone breaching our personal space. But once we know we seem to have reservations against this trespassing. However, this does not seems to affect relationships, which is driven through the desire to belong rather than to understand.
Hillary was right to spread that sisypusian smile. Its a hard job to keep the stone rolling down the mountain. Gaining heights is easy when compared to the struggles that one has to go through to sustain it. But than what could be more worth than struggling to keep the gains, instead of giving it up and scaling another peak from the basics.