Relationships, seen and unseen

A relationship between any two entities can be curious indeed. You have the point of interface, interaction and connection, and then you have what the two entities involved make of that interaction. This seldom occurs in a vacuum, so that wider networks of interaction and involvement impact on how any two things get along. This applies to human relationships, to our relationship with land, ancestors, wildlife in general, and all other things, seen and unseen.

All I see of my multitudinous relationships, is my side of the equation. I may not even notice the other side. I may, with empathy and imagination, try to figure out how things are on the other side of relating to me, but at best I am guessing. I may very easily bring fantasy, need and even delusion into that equation – in fact I think most of us do sooner or later. Our shared relationship with the earth is a fine case in point. We treat as infinite resource something that is finite, precious and desperately in need of our care. If that isn’t delusional… I’m not sure what is!

We are more connected to everything and everyone else than our little primate brains are ever going to be able to meaningfully contemplate. Of necessity, we can’t think about all of it all of the time. We make choices about what to pay attention to, which relationships to prioritise and which ones to ignore. Those choices may or may not be conscious.

Most of us want to be thought well of by others. Whether we seek to earn that through our good and reasonable actions, force it by taking power over others, or cheat and delude them into liking us goes a long way to defining the sort of person we actually are. In our heads we may all be romantic heroes, wise and poplar leaders, respected members of our communities. In our heads, we may be beloved of the gods and favoured by the fates. It’s not much measure of anything, given that in our heads, we can be anything at all.

What defines us is not who we think we are. It’s not who other people think we are, either. Our truth, our authenticity, lies in what we do in each and every relationship we have, recognised and unrecognised. The odds are this truth exists invisible, unseeable, unknown – unless you postulate score-keeping deities with omniscient oversight (which mostly I don’t). That truth of relationship underpins the reality we are all engaged in creating. It manifests in the world, even if it is beyond us to fully understand it.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

3 responses to “Relationships, seen and unseen

  • Éilis Niamh

    Yes, agreed. When I remember, I often ask questions, lots of questions, of the seen and unseen people I relate to. I can’t pretend that I’ve interpreted their actions or meaning or feelings correctly. It’s easy to be wrong. I try to cultivate relationships based on compassion and a willingness to mutually grow. Then when inevitably we mess up and get it wrong, working through it will on the whole bring us together. That’s easier to do with the unseen folk than with the embodied visible ones and that includes my relationship with myself– compassion is a pretty difficult standard to meet in that case. All our interactions are filtered through our own world view and perceptions to some extent, so that I have to often stop and wonder, and particularly when attempting to live up to a commitment of honesty, what’s really going on, what’s true and what’s what I fear/want to be true, and how do I know the difference? Again for me answers to those questions are much clearer, even given that we do make some mistakes, in my relationships with the unseen (I think so, but could of course be objectively off on this.) In my experience embodied relationships are gnarly and complicated, and I’m usually getting it wrong, and mistakes have much more dire consequences: rejection, manipulation, control, power over, betrayal, being made small. I suppose the trick there is to know your own worth as a person and put yourself out there anyway, even if you get hurt, and even though your perspective is the only one you will ever be absolutely sure of. I do not think, as some of my friends seem to think, that the fact that we bring ourselves with us to every relationship means we should question the basic nature and existence of those relationships, either in this world or the next. We are all connected as you say and I find that despite, and perhaps through, our subjectivity communication does and can authentically happen, imperfectly, but still effectively.

    • Nimue Brown

      for me, it’s not the going wrong that is the measure – it’s inevitable something will – but what we do in light of that. then you find out if its about blame, or about making things better…

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