Sharing It All
There is something magical about sharing. Through the magnificent ingredient of togetherness we can both minimize our pain and enlarge our gladness. In sharing we find that individualism isn’t nearly as much of a thrill as the satisfaction of belonging.
Now consider what happens when you take a humble dish and share it. Though it may be not much more than a matter of nutrition, when broken between two, eating a simple meal becomes a bonding experience. If the company is good, not only will the experience be memorable, but chances are even the most basic food will have more flavor.
Yet, despite the pleasures of company, we are becoming more isolated. Western life has become highly individualized to the point where loneliness is almost synonymous with modernity and sophistication. Housing is designed for separation and sharing beyond immediate relatives is viewed with suspicion.
Contrast that to more traditional societies who cannot imagine life without experiencing daily community. Time spent apart is lost time while we in Western societies put privacy on a pedestal.
Somehow, along with good times and closeness, togetherness has come to be associated with problems and pressure. That’s why Western culture places so much emphasis on escape, retreats, and seclusion.
This continual tension between sharing together and needing privacy leaves many of us conflicted. We want to be together with family and friends but also yearn for time aside from personal demands.
While this balance is different for each of us, I believe that we feel best when we share more time together with people we care about, and make our private times more focused (to be calming intervals of release).
Sharing time with others over meals (including the preparation and clearing up) is immensely bonding. While time spent sharing in regular activities does us good.
Too much of a solitary focus promotes separation and potentially feeds loneliness. Mind you, there are always exceptions. While we all benefit from at least some time to privately reflect, some thrive on being alone more often than not.
Yet sharing has a deep influence on we human beings. In the presence of others we learn vital aspects like: belonging, friendship, difference, and empathy. While even the difficult times in relationship teach us more than we might ever expect.
In times of delight or desperate despair, the comfort of sharing is manifest. To live well we need each other and it’s in our bonds that we find most of our greatest moments.
Through good times and bad, sickness and health, togetherness threads meaning and identity through life. For surely, it’s not the things we gather and proudly display that empower us. It’s the quality of our belonging that matters, as we share life in the prevailing company of each other.
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