A Little List of Awesome & Not-So Awesome!

Things that bother me intensely:

*Dishonesty – Boom, right up at the top there.

*Elitism – that is, considering you and your approved peers as better than other rejected individuals or groups, affording your consideration to this very small circle of friends, and forming your sense of identity (incredibly!) around the exclusion of others.

*Cutting Off Communication – Yep. It’s called not being a jackass.

*Littering – There are more than just Native American’s crying because of your ignorant and self-absorbed dumbass.

*Apathy – Yeah, apathy is pretty cool right now in a lot of circles, principle among them the hipster, that amorphous, stand-for-nothing type of person that floats among the sea of options, whether activist or entertainment, much like how they go shopping. What activist issue best expresses ME? None of them? Op, oh well. Maybe I’ll try on a pair of these ridiculously over-sized sunglasses. Because that’s what matters.

*Fake agreeableness, compliments and smiles (also called insincerity) – If you want to talk about creepy this takes the cake.

*Ego Games – Though, I gotta admit, if you can see the cosmic drama of life in a comedic light, and aren’t overly attached to your particular ego in the play, they can be pretty damn funny sometimes.

Things I like a Lot:

Well, the opposite of all of the above, really.

*Authentic Being-ness, for starters – No false fronts. No masks. You are you yourself, just as you are. Part of this comes from 2:

*Deep Communication – Being able to express your desires, needs, intentions, issues, hang ups you’re grappling with, beauties, joys, and dreams all with honesty and up-front transparency.

*Compassion – Ahhh yeah. This one doesn’t get a lot of play in the fashion or lifestyle magazines, but it’s pretty awesome. Loving someone when it may not necessarily fulfill one of your own desires may not be sexy. It may not promise the on-demand satisfaction and entertainment value that a more selfish, material-oriented world-view can offer, but I think it offers the difference between the instant satisfaction of Taco Bell verses the slow satisfaction of growing, cooking, and eating food you made yourself. Tasty!

*Mindfulness – Mmm, yeah I could devote a whole book to this… but fortunately someone already has. It’s called Teachings On Love by Thich Nhat Hanh. Read it and be amazed.

*Ego Relativism – Did I just make this term up? If so I’m putting a copyright on this term. Feel free to use it and send royalties to my home address. Haha. So what is Ego Relativism? It’s realizing that every conscious being on the planet earth has an ego, and that, as it was so finely put in Earthlings, we are all the psychological centers of a life that is uniquely our own.

That part we all understand. Here’s the crazy part: Our ego is not more or less deserving of happiness than any other ego. We all view life through the filters of our own ego’s needs and desires, but an ego relativist often steps outside of this filter to see a situation from all the other egos involved.

An example would be good here. Let’s say you’re dating a woman and she loves you but also still has feelings for her ex. The default habit here would be to put our own considerations above the considerations of the other two people, and especially the ex. The ex becomes a threat to our own ego’s happiness, so we get intensely jealous and possessive and may get angry and hate the ex and get mad at our partner for having any feelings that might threaten our own wants. An ego relativist, on the other hand, can see that their own wants are no more valid and deserving than their partner or their partner’s ex. Their egos are thinking exactly what you’re thinking. They want to be happy. You want to be happy. And from this realization, the only inevitable reaction becomes to work towards fulfilling the happiness of everyone involved – as best as you possibly can.

Now when I told my friend Eli about this, the first thing he asked was, “Well what if you’re in a situation where everyone’s needs can’t all be met? What do you do then? What if one of them is staunchly monogamous?” And I said, well, if you are firmly an ego relativist, then a flexibility to explore possibilities flows naturally from this original logic. Their happiness is your happiness. Their suffering is your suffering. From this understanding, a willingness to explore third-dimensional options beyond the usual 2D, black and white monogamous option becomes second nature. You might even attempt these explorations without even knowing there is a name for it. You just do it because it makes sense.

But, if you or the other two people are definitely not into an open-relationship situation, and there is no way for the needs of all three people to be met, then an ego relativist would handle the situation in the following two ways. Ultimately, your partner is put into the undesirable and tricky position of having to choose (a real tragedy in my opinion, but hey, it’s their choice to go this route).

If they choose you, then you can simply try to be as loving and considerate to the ex as you possibly can. You will probably experience deep empathy and ambivalence because you’ve been on that end of the equation many times before. You share their suffering as if it was your own, and whatever you can do to lighten this suffering, you do it.

If she chooses her ex, it is difficult, but you can experience some peace knowing that her ex is happier now that he can be with her, and that she is happy with him. Their happiness IS your happiness, too. Their happiness is equally as deserving as your happiness, and the dice just happened to come up snake eyes for you – this time. Next time it will probably come up sevens, and that’s just the nature of life.

Another question Eli asked, playing Devil’s Advocate at this point, “What about when two countries want the same oil?” And I said, simply, “They share.” It’s called the Oil Depletion Protocol, an international treaty that has not been put into place, but follows the same logic of Ego Relativism on an international level as it follows on an individual level.

Now as some might have guessed by now, when we believe that no ego is any more deserving of happiness than any other ego, this applies not just to human egos, but every conscious ego on planet earth – anything with a nervous system, in other words. Suddenly, consenting to the mass slaughter and suffering of chickens, cows, and pigs at the moment of our purchase and consumption of meat seems entirely unethical.

Of course, my decision to become vegetarian came from many angles, but what sealed the deal was the realization that the human-centered view that puts human interests above the interests of all other species was not based on any objective truth, but definitively a culturally conditioned mythology. It is speciesism – a step up from sexism and racism in the moral hierarchy of today’s culture, but a form of baseless and selfish discrimination nonetheless. It seems like if we are to follow Ego Relativism to its conclusion, then fighting for the rights and happiness of all animals seems to arise organically.

Hmm, I’m wondering how many people reading this were gung ho about Ego Relativism right up until this moment. Our eating habits are certainly a sensitive topic. It puts us face to face with our own limits to compassion – “Yea I’ll be compassionate all you want until you start talking about what I like to eat! Then we gotta a problem here.”

Well, fortunately, a side-effect of Ego Relativism is a good degree of moral relativism. I believe in being vegetarian and I hope someday all humans are, at least 90%, but I don’t hold it against anyone that isn’t. Everyone’s got to make their own choices in life. It’s why I’ve never held it against anyone I’ve dated that wasn’t a vegetarian, either.

Ah, trying to harmonize a strong belief in social justice and compassion with not judging people or cutting off my heart from them – it is one of the most beautifully complex balances to find, but it makes for a great life adventure!

Ah ha! Well. I seemed to have went on a bit of an unproportional tangent on that one. What’s the last thing I really like a lot you ask?

*The willingness and desire to learn and grow from every situation. – Yea, without this one, the rest seem pretty hard to achieve.


Lessons From a Future Self

Talking to one of my past relationship partners, I’ve felt on several occasions like I’m talking to a former self of mine from five years ago. I’m trying to smack some sense into him, trying to get him to not make the same mistakes.

If I could say something to myself five years ago it would be this: When seeking a life partner, be careful to not chase after an illusory “ideal” that may not even exist. You may have found someone great. You’re 70-80% compatible with them, could easily marry them, but they don’t have some things you want, so you break up to keep looking for that perfect person with the extra 10% compatibility.

Now what’s the trouble with this approach? First, do we even know what we want? Do we know what that 90% consists of? Figuring this out can take some time, and it often changes with age. But this perfect person you seek might have the 10% you were looking for, but they will likely lack qualities that you valued with previous partners.

So just be careful. Be careful you don’t get greedy or get lost seeking a fantasy ideal that does not exist. It’s true your current partner may not be “one of the ones.”They may not have one or three of the qualities that you have decided is absolutely important to have in a life partner. Just be careful you’re not taking them for granted and are simply lusting after the possibility of “more.” It’s the grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side syndrome. A problem, I realize, that is more temperamental when you’re young and still lacking experience. You may not know what you have when you find it, and you may not know what really matters, because you just haven’t lived long enough to get it – not intellectually, but in your core being. What “really matters” I’ve found tends to change as you get older.

But knowing the wisdom that I do now, I realize it’s possible I still might make the same decision. “I gotta date others before I settle down.” It doesn’t matter if I’ve met one of the ones. I simply haven’t dated enough people, haven’t absorbed enough life experience from a diversity of people yet, and I want to bring that kind of diversity of experience, wisdom and maturity to whatever life partner I do eventually find myself with.

But if this is the case, and my current partner and I are meant to part ways, I should like to hope that we can change the form of relationship like adults. Not break-up like high-schoolers and fall into the same predictable clichés of most breakups, with all the expectations about how to act towards our ex’s, putting them into a narrow category – ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend.

If you’re still really compatible and nothing’s changed on that level – if you still get along great – why should we close off our hearts just because they’re an “ex”? Where is there room for the possibility of intimate friendships?

Well, I think it is a question worth exploring. But either way we want to go about it, I think we just have to be careful about the expectations we have about finding “the one” – this perfect person that will fulfill all our needs and wants forever. Yes maybe the two of you aren’t meant to be together forever, but so what? I think this special focus on finding “the one” can really prevent us from enjoying the beauty and uniqueness of each person. Our focus on the future and the constant comparisons we make really keep us from appreciating the present moment.

When you think about it, we put pressure on our partners to fulfill some very unrealistic expectations. That is, we always think the last one wasn’t the one, or the one before that, or the one before that, but we always expect that this new person will *definitely* be the one. And if they’re not, then we better figure that out soon so we can move on and keep looking. It’s kind of like speed-dating but on the macro-life level.

I think it’s worth considering that ninety-nine times out of a hundred, they’re not going to be “the one.” It is a simple statistical truth of life. And when we desire that every person we meet fulfill these hopelessly ridiculous expectations, we inevitably will end up disappointing ourselves, getting hurt and hurting others one time after another, for at least a decade or more of our life. Realizing this, I have to wonder if there is a better way to approach our relationships early on in life.

When our main relationship goal is finding “the one,” I think it takes a lot of the fun and adventure out of life. At least, I feel like it eliminates so many other beautiful possibilities, possibilities that open up when we can finally stop judging and evaluating our relationships for “the one” potential and simply start loving our partners for whoever they are. We may find that throwing off the burden of this romantic goal may be incredibly liberating.

Who knows what kind of deep, meaningful love two people could discover when they can love each other fully but also know and accept they aren’t meant to be together forever?

Imagine that for just a second.

You can love them completely, right now, knowing they aren’t the one. As I found with the person I dated last year, when I let go of my expectations of who I’d like her to be, suddenly it became possible to appreciate her just as she is, and nothing more was necessary. If I had approached this person with my usual attitude, I probably would have checked her off my “the one” list after a few dates. I’m glad I didn’t, because I would have lost out on a lot.

It seems each choice offers us different lessons and different experiences. Whether we decide to simply break up when we decide they aren’t the one, or we decide to explore third-dimensional possibilities, they will both offer different life experiences. If we decide to go the usual route, the potential for a beautiful and unique relationship that could have lasted many more meaningful years will definitely be lost.

In fact, choosing to seek this fantasy of “the one” almost guarantees that most of us will get to enjoy at least ten to fifteen years or more of cyclical hook ups and break-ups, broken hearts and dashed hopes. Our love life becomes this pattern of starting a new relationship, cutting it off to start something new and then starting all over again. Cut and stop and go; cut and stop and go. Add. Repeat.

I have to wonder if there are other ways to approaching life that are worth exploring. Considering that it is statistically a fact that most of the people we date, by definition will not be “the one” maybe there is a way to redefine the rules of the game during this period in our youth, so that we can maximize the mutual happiness of ourselves and the people we get into relationships with, and minimize the levels of drama and disappointment.
Instead of seeking the “one” when we’re young, what else could be our goal?

Wanting to learn from people different from us could be a goal. Being open to seeing what we can learn from someone, even if it’s not what we “want” to learn could be a goal – just to expand our horizons. For those that like traveling, it’s like going on a vacation, but instead of having to pack any bags, it’s an inter-personal journey into the imagination of the mind. Infinite personality combinations creating a rubix cube of unique experiences, like a Swedish massage for your brain.

Sounds good right? I knowww…

Focusing on other aspects of life could be another goal, with no hurry to find the one. You could accept that because life is continually changing, the one that’s perfect for you now will often be changing. You might believe that being with someone who’s good for you – someone who supports you and compels you to grow and challenge yourself is the most important thing right now in life. If they support your current life goals and your personal direction in life, even if it isn’t their own, that could be all that matters.

What’s really funny is that “the one” you might find perfect for you in five years might not be right for you right now in your life. You might break up with her if you met her now. For people in their early twenties, it’s a pretty crazy time; people are changing directions rapidly. “The one” that you want now may not be right for you when you decide you want to live someplace else, or move back, or you change a lot personally, or you pick a career. To make a legitimately serious commitment to someone, you’re mutually agreeing to take the same life path together, that you are both accepting who you are, as you are right now. You’re promising, to some degree, not to change – that you will stay enough the same to follow the same path together. It’s a big life choice. You will be moving from having many possibilities before you, to having chosen one possibility over others, and knowing that looking back, that will be one of the forks in the road that determined the shape of your life.

It’s a crazy trip. You’re baking your bread. You’re putting the soft and moldable dough of your youth into the oven, and out of the oven is gonna come some of the finest bread, you are gonna love it! At least that’s what we all hope. But truthfully, the shape of our bread will be determined by the choices we make in life now.

What kind of bread do we want to bake?

How Relationships Are Like Muffins, and Why I Enjoy Building With Blocks

Why do we seek out relationships? Well, really that is pretty obvious – for the companionship, for the sexual intimacy, for the support and joy of sharing your life with another. But of course, for many people there are several other fruits to be found from our relationships, not just the ones we enjoy in the traditional sense. Personally, I see our relationships as a continual source for growing and learning.

I want to learn something new from every relationship I’m in. Everyone is unique. Everyone can challenge us, often times without them meaning to, if we have the ears and eyes to listen. There are amazing lessons to be learned tucked away and hidden in every experience, especially the more difficult ones, if we are open to finding them.

Our intimate partners can teach us so much about ourselves, our short-comings, our beauties, things we didn’t even know there were to learn. Our partner is like a mirror, holding up to us a clear view of ourselves, and all the ways we can still improve.

It is a big thing I’m in to apparently. Challenging myself and the other. Learning. Great stuff!

And you know, the best parts come after you’ve known them for awhile. To really be able to challenge your partner, offer something insightful that they hadn’t thought of, and for them to do the same, you’ve really got to get to know the person well. The best lessons come when you sustain that spirit of friendship over a long time, especially even after you’ve decided to just be friends, or change the relationship form in some other way.

I suppose that’s why it’s unfortunate when I meet people who are only interested in the relationship part, and not so much with the growing and learning part. When they want to break up, they’re done. See ya. The only real “learning” to be had is in the context of the honey-moon phase of the relationship. It is like people who only want to eat the soft, top part of the muffin, and once it’s gone, they throw the rest away and move on to the next. Agh! So wasteful!

The best lessons come from long-term relationship. It’s a great feeling to be able to offer someone an insight that they missed because of their own blind-spots, and it’s amazing to have this revelation yourself, when a friend points out something you missed in your own line of thinking.

That’s why it just seems like a terrible waste to cut off a relationship when it “ends.” You lose out on so much, and it takes a lot of time to build back up to that point with someone new.

Until then, you’re back to your old self with all its conclusions and established narratives. It’s pretty easy to pretend to be whoever you want to be when the person doesn’t know you at all yet. You can usually do a pretty good job of only showing people the side you want to show, until your belt loosens and your true self inevitably hangs out. Until then, you could appear to be a totally positive, good-natured person. You could have that idea yourself. There’s no way they could know that you actually have problems communicating your true feelings with people, and that due to your established “reputation” as an always positive, bubbly person, you feel a great pressure to be agreeable and complimentary, and have trouble expressing deeper emotions – of doubt, of needs not being fulfilled, of annoyances. So honesty becomes this difficult thing for this person, but they see themselves as honest. They have other rationalizations for their behavior, and it becomes a blind-spot.

Of course, being able to see this, their past partner could point this out, but this person has already moved on and cut their ex out of their life, and thus, no lessons to be learned. They’ll go on to their next partner, make similar mistakes, not learn from them and move on once more, burning along a long path of desires, not likely to grow up until some truly hard lessons are learned.

Another variation on this is when the person is aware of their own flaws, but rather than try to change themselves, they break up with their current partner in the hopes of finding someone else who will accept their flaw. It may take two years in the relationship for this flaw to even reveal itself. It may be an attitude or behavior that only comes to the surface after they’ve been in the relationship for awhile, but that causes conflict in the relationship great enough to need addressing. Some of the biggest lessons we can learn are the ones that only come to the surface after a couple years with someone, and if we break up then, or do not make an effort to stay friends, then we have squandered the opportunity to learn and improve ourselves in that particular way for another two years, until it inevitably comes up in the next relationship.

Building long-term relationships with people is a lot like stacking wooden blocks on top of each other. New lessons don’t become available until we have stacked up a lot of blocks. And if we abandon those blocks when we start a new relationship, we are starting from scratch, not able to reach the higher lessons for a long time. Unless the relationship turned horribly abusive or unhealthy, in which case cutting the person out of your life would be the healthiest choice, we should never abandon our past blocks. We should continue to build on them – for the growth of ourselves, for the growth of the other, and for a greater mutual happiness for everyone we will come in contact with in our life.

What Are these Monogamous Rules You Have Invented?

Monogamy!As time goes on, the logic of monogamous relationships become increasingly foreign to me, always a bit more curious, always a bit puzzling. But at the same time, viewing monogamous relationships from a distance, as seen from an outsider, I feel like I can perceive monogamy in its pure sense, on a level deeper than someone who is so absolved into its logic and customs that they do not have any perspective on it. It is much like the fish that cannot perceive the water all around it.

Seeing monogamous relationships from a detached perspective, the logic of it seems fairly straightforward. What makes monogamy desirable? For most of us it is the security. Being accepted for who you are, regardless of your flaws. This is what everybody wants in the ideal monogamous relationship – safety, certainty, security, and – most importantly, having the person that provides these feelings all to yourself. And being aware of this, when I try out a monogamous relationship, my actions and words actually tailor to fit this. If I’m with someone who’s in to monogamous relationships, I tailor my language to fit the paradigm. Somewhat subconsciously, I find myself saying things like, “you’ve got me,” which is a way of saying, “Don’t worry. You can feel safe.” And when I say it, I do mean it. I take care to say only what I mean. And if I say, “you’ve got me,” then I accept the responsibility that this entails. It means they can let their guard down without worrying that I will be careless with that trust – that even if the relationship changes, their feelings will be looked after with care.

The interesting thing is, people usually take this “you’ve got me” statement to have more serious “dropping the big words” kind of significance, a unique monogamous connotation. The reality is, I would feel this way towards anyone I was dating, whether it’s been for two weeks or two years.

So I kind of wonder what unique impression these last few people have had about me, seeing only a partial side – one version of Tim chosen among many. Because, the irony is – choosing this path seems completely arbitrary. I adapt to the paradigm I’m living in, and most people today want a monogamous relationship. But I could just as easily not be monogamous. I could just as easily be in an open relationship. If my partner wants that, great. It’s no trouble. My consciousness is open to following the logic and “rules” of either monogamy or polyamory.

In a monogamous context, I may get attached. It seems like that is not only likely, but it’s the goal in most cases in the long term. After the honey-moon phase dies down, however, the passion you feel is accompanied with attachment, and when it’s mutual – security, which is what everybody wants.

Of course, for the true monogamous game players, it’s more complicated than that. You don’t try to make someone feel secure immediately. You don’t show the person love and long-term consideration immediately, if ever. You’ve got to “play hard to get.” You want to be nice and thoughtful but not too nice and thoughtful. You’ve got to keep them uncertain. Don’t act too interested. He who says “I love you” first, loses. I have literally heard people say this. It is all a big mind-fuck, in my opinion – bullshit game playing for a culture that still has a lot of growing up to do.

I say, fuck playing games. I want to be real.

When you know everyone wants to be accepted for who they are, then that should be the goal. Accept people for who they are. Don’t judge them. Judging others only breeds fear in yourself, because ultimately people will judge you just as harshly.

In today’s dating environment, I can understand why some people might think it wise to judge and reject first to avoid the possibility of getting hurt yourself; so many people are careless with others feelings today. Has anyone reading this ever seen Jersey Shore on Cable TV? Case in point. Really there are too many examples to choose from.

Of course, some people might enjoy these games – the drama, the betrayals, the extreme ups and downs. But if you’re not into that kind of thing, I think we might enjoy the possibility of letting go of the script – letting go of the to-do list and game rules that everyone follows when moving through the dating-to-marriage cycle. “Don’t say I love you until the 50 yard line, oh! Fumble!”

No, I say, let’s forget about all of those conventions. Start with a new premise. One that starts with loving the person, being totally real with them from the very start, not 6 months to a year down the line.

Love them, just as they are, without discrimination. Love them regardless of whether they are right for you. Love them for them. Open your heart to them – today! – even if you know you won’t be together forever.

I think it’s a beautiful thing when two people involved have the emotional maturity to love deeply but be able to let their beloved go when the time is right. And until then, love them 100%. Isn’t that the deepest form of love? To love 100%, even when you know it’s not going to last? Isn’t that true of all relationships? We love, even knowing everyone we love one day will die, or move away, or want to share their life with someone else.

But until then – in this moment – you can love them like this moment is all there is.

What is Polyamory? It’s Not Exactly What You Might Think

The root of polyamory means literally “many loves.” Now, immediately people often think this only relates to our intimate relationships, but at the heart of it, it is about every kind of love – platonic, family, friend, intimate, social – the whole spectrum. It is about not seeing love as something we can feel towards our partners only, and opening our hearts (that is, our compassion and kindness) to a much wider circle of people.

It’s funny then, that when this kind of aim becomes our goal, the openness and naturalness to have lovingly intimate relationships with more than one person seems to arise organically. That doesn’t always happen, of course; it depends on the person, but that was my experience.

Now, I think it’s worth stressing. Even though the multiple, loving intimate-relationships thing is what usually takes all the spot-light in the discussion, it is really just one effect of this philosophy. It is not the essential purpose. Whether you prefer to have intimate relationships with one or more people is not the point. If you’re not interested in loving people and you just want to have sex, you can call that kind of situation swinging, or openly dating, or a free lunch, but it’s not polyamory. Polyamory is a philosophy on love. It includes the love we have towards one partner, towards two or three partners, towards our friends, strangers, and society as a whole. But maybe we need to take a step back a minute.

This may all sound completely crazy. It’s hard to say. What does it mean to try to love everyone, not just our romantic partners, but our friends – strangers? To disassociate sex with love and to love people completely, not just maybe 10 or 15 people in the world, but 50 people, 100 people – everyone we come in contact with in our life? Is it possible to even love like this? Now, if we’re talking about romantic love, I would say no. Physically that is probably not even possible. The kind of love I’m talking about is the kind of love we can feel towards anyone. Love, as I would define it, is the *will* to take kind actions; it is that quality inside of us that compels us to be compassionate and thoughtful towards the people in our life.

Now, usually the number of people that would make this list is pretty short. We usually afford our compassion and thoughtfulness to a fairly small group of friends and family, and of course, most prominently, our significant other. But for the longest time I’ve asked myself, why is it so easy to love someone I’m attracted to, but loving someone I don’t like that much is this incredibly difficult thing? I close my heart off to them, and everyone else does this as well, and so it becomes this accepted norm in our society.

Our capacity for empathy and compassion for others seems very limited. I can see this in myself, like most people I would have to guess, and I want to know if it is possible to love more than this small circle of people, to keep my heart open to more and more people in my life until one day I can feel in some real, physical sense a love for everyone in the world. I want to find out what the limit really is. The question is: how do we make the leap from loving this very small circle of people, to opening our hearts to everyone?

If I had to take a stab at it, I think loving others unconditionally is the secret. Loving someone, even knowing their flaws, even knowing their boring sides or whatever sides – you see them as you see yourself.

You can love them, knowing who they are, just the way they are, as if who they are doesn’t even matter.

Just by their existence, they are a part of you and all of it. I am not separate from him. I am not separate from her. We share the same basic desires, hopes, fears, sufferings and dreams – the same basic humanity. Intrinsically, just looking into someone’s eyes, while they’re talking or doing something very ordinary, without them knowing what you’re thinking about, just looking deeply into their eyes with mindfulness and that sort of conscious intention, aware of who we all truly are – it would seem hard not to love them.

It could be a moment like this.

You could look into one of these person’s eyes, and love inside them what is common in all of us, to appreciate the beauty of that. For me, the breakthrough came when I asked myself, “If I can love so-and-so with such ease, why not this person? Why not these people? What’s really the difference?”

It’s funny that it has always been easiest to work on opening my heart in this way to women whom I’ve been intimate with at some point in time (whether in a polyamorous or a monogamous context). That is just the way we are taught to love, so it is what feels the most natural for us.

Quietly, though, the voice inside my heart knows that my love must not be one-pointed. If I want to find out what it means to love fully, completely, not just to love sexually, in this very limited way, then I must love the world before it becomes particular shapes, or particular people.

Love the parts, because you understand the whole.

If I can love a woman in this way, should I not then be able to open my heart to others? Am I not able to love all my friends, strangers, acquaintances, and lovers in this way?

Using this love, this openness as a template, I can apply these feelings to everyone.

This to me, is what polyamory is about – opening our hearts to a wider and wider circle of people, no longer limiting our love to a select few, no longer cutting off existing loves when we meet someone new, no longer seeing love as a limited commodity. To explore polyamory is to tap into that deep, limitless well of loving energy that resides in all of us. And from this point, the desire and willingness to explore polyamory in our intimate relationships (when a good situation arises for it) becomes one of many new great adventures.

This last statement makes a subtle point. Many people are surprised when I tell them that, philosophically, I’m polyamorous, but that most of the time I prefer to pursue monogamous relationships. I’m sure some brains are exploding trying to compute this. 🙂 But the difference is flexibility. If monogamy is the best fit for the situation, awesome, I’m all for it. But if a situation arises where it would work better to explore third-dimensional options (which would bring a greater mutual happiness to everyone involved) then I’m all for that too. There are so many times that I’ve experienced or that I’ve heard about when being flexible in a situation can allow so many more joyous possibilities. And these possibilities are simply unattainable when we stick to the “one winner and one loser” outcome, where a person is stuck in the tragic dilemma of having to choose between two people she loves. And I find situations like this happen all the time.

But whether we prefer to be in monogamous relationships, or we want to actively work on cultivating loving, committed relationships with two or three people, that is simply our personal preference. What makes a person polyamorous is our desire to simply be a more loving person, to love everyone we come in contact with in our life, and to want to discover what is truly possible.

For me, it all starts from understanding the essence of the love that we all feel in our monogamous relationships, seeing the pathways that allowed us to open our heart to this person, and then working to apply this same path to everyone.

It’s a good template to work from.

An Experiment: Loving More, Judging Less

The next time you think about rejecting someone, try loving them instead.

You’ll find it is more difficult than you might imagine. If you usually pride yourself on loving many people, you may be caught by the sudden contradiction of your behavior, when you find it hard to love someone when it does not come naturally.

Even after ten years reading books and working on myself, I still catch myself subtly making separating distinctions and judgments that offer me a rationalization to close off my heart. Only in the last year and a half can I say that I have loved others and acted responsibly towards all the people I’ve gotten involved with, even throughout changes in the relationship. Handling a change in the relationship form (what others might sometimes call a “break up”) is probably the most difficult time to maintain ones mindfulness and compassion.

And it is difficult, in this case, because loving this person would not be based on our own selfish desires. You see, loving someone is easy when it also fulfills our own selfish desires. That is not really true love. Loving someone in this way is a form of self-deception. We say, “I love you,” but we only say it because they make us feel good. When we try to love someone we may want to reject, we realize that true love isn’t selfish. It isn’t about us, and how they make us feel. True love is about showing kindness towards another despite how they make us feel – good or bad. If they are fundamentally a good, decent person, we have no excuse not to love them, other than for the want to fulfill our own desires.

Now, maybe you’re not interested in loving people in this way. If that is the case, please stop reading. Go on and drink your beers, party it up like nothing else matters, and keep pursuing your own little needs. This wasn’t meant for people with that kind of attitude. If you are still reading this, it’s because you have a desire to challenge yourself, to become a better person – to love more, to be kinder, to be less judgmental, to be less selfish and more other-oriented.

If you want to grow, evolve – then choose to love the next person you subconsciously or consciously want to judge and reject.

When our view of the other person is not filtered through our own desires, we realize they are just another person like ourselves. Equally deserving respect and kindness, just as we do, so long as we are not a jackass. If we act like a jackass towards our friends, towards our ex-partners, or to people we don’t know, then maybe we don’t deserve much extra consideration. But at its essence, we were all an innocent five-year-old child once, and we all fundamentally deserve respect and kindness on a basic level.

If you cannot do this, then all your words about how “I love lots of people” will ring hollow. It’s easy for our minds to congratulate ourselves with such narratives, when the behavior in actual practice falls short of the hype. The mind can easily create blind spots that hide our own contradictions, if we’re not mindful of what’s going on up there in our heads.

A true measurement of a person’s character can not be derived from how they treat those they like, but how they treat those they have written off. The act of writing someone off, in a way that lacks love and kindness, is proof enough, that that person has a lot of growing up to do.

February 2010

Everyone We Know is a Mirror of Ourselves

Every person we know and relate to is a mirror of ourselves. What we reject in someone else we reject in ourselves. What we love in others we love in ourselves. The outer is all a reflection of our own psychology. Our own hang-ups, our own aspirations, beliefs, attitudes – our shortcomings and beauties, joys and fears – they are all right there staring you in the face when you look into the eyes of everyone you know. This is especially true with those in our lives that we are closest to. With this realization I’m not sure what exactly happens… Maybe it is compassion.
March 2010

The Right Time for Now is Now

Example: You’re not in a relationship with anyone at the moment because the right thing to happen right now is happening right now. When the time happens that I’m in a relationship, that’s what will be right for that moment. For that moment, but who can tell what will be right in the next?

I find that things have a way about working out. It’s just the nature of life that there are good fruits to life and there are bad fruits. And unfortunately, we don’t very much like when what’s right for this moment, isn’t what we want it to be.

So whaddaya do?

For every fruit that comes, good or bad, there will be a thousand others just down the road. I already feel like I’ve experienced so much, and yet, so much awaits me. There’s so much to look forward too. It’s like you’re on a train to happiness – to whatever you want in life. You know you’ll get there, eventually, so you can be free to enjoy the sights you see out the window at the moment. Ooh, what’s that? You see yourself suffering outside the window? Well yeah, it happens, and I’m sure there’s a good philosophical reason why that’s alright, but I don’t think it actually matters. I mean, try not to suffer Tim – if that’s your thing – if that’s what you want to do. But again, you’ve just got to be real. “Here I am, suffering.” Or: “Here I am, happy because I realize this thing that seems to make sense about how things are.”

Or whatever. Say it. And laugh. And love. Because really that’s all you’ve got, Tim. That’s all, really. Just fill yourself with love, and you’ll be alright. It really is quite amazing. Because when you do let go of all the buts and the shoulds, and you just let yourself love – that’s all there is. That’s all that matters, and you can deal with anything.

The hardest part, I guess, is loving what you don’t like – loving your suffering, loving whatever or whoever you are, completely.

Right now, I do love myself. I love suffering Tim and angry Tim and happy, vibrant, loving Tim. They’re all welcome in my house.

Now, I know I’ve heard this all before, but really, you’ve got to really try to try to not try to try to not forget! 🙂 I mean, it’s really going to take some effort, if you want to have… whatever you want. Things don’t happen on their own (although they do, at the same time… funny that.). You just have to remember this simple point, and try to remember each time you forget, and slowly you’ll be “sleeping” less and less, until you get to a point where you’re happily aware that the right time for now is now – as much as you want to be. Whatever feels comfortable. Because really, you have to get some sleep. You’ can’t be in this state of mind all the time. You have to fall asleep so you can enjoy waking up. Right? I’m pretty sure you do.

Now, I recognize the inherent dilemma at this age: Because you’re so young and have yet to experience so much, how can you stay awake for very long? Temptation grabs you. But I think that that is necessary. After all, what is happening now (the temptation) is the right thing for right now. So, those parts in life can’t be all bad. And really, they aren’t at all. It’s all a part of the dance. It’s all a part of life.

January 2003

I Am a Man Who Lives by Agreement and Understanding

Two worlds: different agreements/different understandings.

In a traditional monogamous commitment, we agree to only be intimate with the other. Because we agree to not see anyone else, we expect our partner to do the same. To break the agreement would be unfair and cause suffering because (as in all normal committed relations) we become attached to our partner, attached to them being faithful. We feel possessive (in other words: exclusive), attached love. If we have an agreement I will put my trust into the pact and uphold my word.

If we agree to love each other without making a traditional commitment, then I can just love my partner, and cultivate feelings of true (non-possessive, non-attached) love. Her dating others arouses no jealousy because I can do the same, and I want her to be happy. We’ve agreed we can date others freely, love freely, with openness and honesty, and thus, there is no bond to break. No drama. No hurt feelings. Our agreement is different, and thus, my approach and understanding towards the relationship is different. I can cultivate the spirit of true love – spiritual love – inside myself, which nurtures an understanding that allows me to see arguably the same event (her romance with another) with love and compassion, rather than betrayal and loss.

July 2006

A Life Exercise for When We’ve Been Hurt by Someone

Visualize the face of the person who’s hurt you. What do you see?

You may first see their expression in the moment of the event that they hurt you. It may be a face of anger or frustration, but keep looking at them longer and their facial expression will begin to change.

See their face in other moments. Visualize their face in moments where they have felt suffering. See her crying, perhaps, in one moment, with you holding her in your arms. See her laughing, in moments where she felt free and spontaneous. See the moments when she was doing something very ordinary, and you saw how beautiful she is. See her face when she is angry, and see how her vulnerability and suffering is masked behind her angry words and expression. See her in pain, when she sprained her foot while hiking. See her in the throes of passion and pleasure, the expression on her face at the height of orgasm. See her face anxious, worried about finding a job or getting the right grade in a class. See her face in love, looking into your eyes, looking out at the world. See her face in moments of true happiness, when she’s not even aware of it.

Visualize this person, and see the forms of emotion morph from one to the next over the transparent image of his or her face. Watch the individual images blur, quicker in space and time, gradually, until you can see all of these faces of the person at once. Until finally, all you see is the person itself.

You see her just as she is: a painful yet beautiful expression of every emotion that belongs to the human experience. Transient, striving and searching, trying to live the best she can, find happiness, find love, traveling along a long path of burning desires. She is of the same nature as your self. We are intimately related.

Then, apply this process to others in your life. Take a moment to see each person important to you in this stream of events. Widen your circle farther until you see everyone in the world like this – all manifestations of the human condition, including yourself.

When I realized this, everyone became my brothers and sisters. Everyone became family.

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