In my house, weâ€™ve been talking about how it is to be withâ€¦ each other.
In my mind, Iâ€™ve been thinking about how it is to be with, period.
With two tween girls, and the fourth member of our family in another state, our togetherness â€“ and even our apartness â€“ has a qualityÂ Â to it.
Iâ€™ve reminded everyone that we are who and what we have. And, that our togetherness colors our worlds. We can lift, annoy or deflate each otherâ€¦ in an instant.
To them, Iâ€™ve asked –
Am I being good companyâ€¦ for you?
Are you being good companyâ€¦for us?
It got me thinking – what does it mean to be good company? And what does this moment help us see about each other â€“ about â€œusâ€ â€“ that we might not face in the midst of life as we knew it?
Weâ€™re mostly in the business of evaluating how others push and pull us. Weâ€™ve become semi-professional articulators of how your habit/way/mood/viewâ€¦impacts me and mine. But how often do we consider how it is to be themâ€¦around us? Or even, how is lifeÂ Â Â with meâ€¦
With proximities we havenâ€™t had before, and for durations that transcend any past frames of reference, our togetherness (or aloneness) has created new sensations, perhaps even revelations â€“ welcome or not.
Nothing is how it was.
Some things, how ever they were, have now become magnified.
A natural instinct would be to continue to manufacture distractions â€“ as that is what we know how to do so well. But that would miss this unprecedented opportunity, where life has paused out thereâ€¦where we could make eye contact with right here, right now and see
On a more superficial level, I see that for myself itâ€™s easy to react with jagged edges to various triggers â€“ be it my tiny roommateâ€™s leftover dishes on the coffee table or a silent (but definitely judgmental) response to someone or something on social media. On a dark day, it can sound like my greatest hits of personal disappointment â€“ the voices of every little or big way Iâ€™ve let myself (or others) down. The compare = despair machinery wakes up â€“ even in these new conditions.
Under normal circumstances, I might quickly reset myself with â€“ so what? To what end? And arrive, ultimately at â€¦ move onâ€¦no time (or energy) for that.
But that grounding exercise is easier to do when the proverbial â€œedgeâ€ is within sight.
When the world made sense (a month or two ago), we measured our reality – our overall OK-ness – through a dynamic lens, often comparing what is to what could be. Whether weâ€™re aware of it or not, we are almost always self-regulating our relationship with good, getting betterâ€¦bad, getting worseâ€¦stagnant, not going anywhere. We have end dates. Start dates. Calendars. Before we let a feeling submerge too deeply, itâ€™s probably time to â€¦make dinner, see friends, meet a work deadlineâ€¦get on a plane. Diversion was our frequent companion.
And itâ€™s not that we didnâ€™t feel, or let ourselves feel â€“ if youâ€™re reading this â€“ youâ€™re a feeler, like I am. We feel.
But now, whether alone or with others, the feelings that might have stayed boxed away in storage have nowhere to go, but here.
For me, these mercurial tides take the form of reflections, questions and ruminations about my purpose, about my relationships. They can wash over me in huge waves or nip like tiny laps at my ankle. In these moments, I donâ€™t know whether itâ€™s harder to be with, or to be alone.
There are times when my own company is startlingly honest. Iâ€™ve been aware of a pattern emerging, noticing the distance between how I feel and what I want, and what I do about it.
Iâ€™m not always ready to face these emotional voicemails.
Yet, I donâ€™t want to be afraid of them.
Are the answers to questions of being good company – for each other, for ourselves – more important to answer today? Are they more pressing than a month ago, or a year before that? Will they be as important six months from now? I donâ€™t know.
What is pressing is this unusual opportunity, despite its dark catalyst. Our accepted constructs of time and space have been redefined, removing the usual barriers to eliciting authentic answers. Our emotional nerve centers, more porous these days, are letting more inâ€¦letting more outâ€¦with fewer filters. Weâ€™ve been invited to what could be a one-time conversation, if weâ€™re willing to accept.
What an opening to take inventory of our impact; on each other, on our worlds â€“ both literal and figurative.
How am I, for you?
How am Iâ€¦for me?
How are we?
We are always keeping company.
This seems like a rare moment to inquire about how it is, to be us.