A couple of years ago, I returned to live in England, after nearly two decades on another continent. ‘Over there’ one could trace a very slight element of disdain towards those who ‘gave up’ to return to a more comfortable existence in their home country, and to what was assumed would be a constrained and dull life.
I suppose the enormity of moving back, versus just visiting, meant that one needed a different energy for it. Reading these words of Marcel Proust, I realised that the energy I needed did come from having those new eyes to rediscover the country of my birth and the people who I now live and work amongst. And what a delightful journey it has been, not at all constrained or dull as the assumptions predicted.
In my work with couples, we talk a lot about perception. Each other’s perception of a situation or issue that brings understanding, even if not necessarily agreement. I am constantly challenging people to look at their partner with new eyes, to dismantle their assumptions about each other’s inner landscape.
It seems to me that assumptions and expectations are the two things that close the most doors in a relationship, and perhaps in life. They are judgments. Full stop. There is nowhere to go from them. No path onwards or outwards and certainly not upwards.
In this new relationship with my homeland, I have wanted to run many, many times. Not back to where I was before, but into a place of safety to hide away when I couldn’t make sense of things. One thing that has kept me going, and I hope growing, has been curiosity. I find there is no judgment in curiosity because the questions are the key piece, rather than the answers. Questions leave a wide open space ahead, a space for onwards and outwards and very importantly, upwards.
Rumi calls this place a garden, “Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I will meet you there.” And gardens are usually places of great beauty and healing.
If you’d like to receive our regular Insights to Intimacy straight to your inbox, click here