Relationships of the Heart

. . . Relationships of the heart, though, require exposure of the soul. There is risk and, potentially, reward in every utterance, every look, every assumption . . . . I know it’s not just me: most of us, to one degree or another, have difficulty maintaining human bonds.

Becoming, and especially remaining, intimately associated with another human being – spouse, child, parent, friend – is challenging. For many of us, the prospect of revealing our inner selves (if we even know we have inner selves) and giving up the autonomy of a solitary life (an autonomy that many people cling to even when living with others, as I can personally attest), can be harrowing. And everyone knows that relationships require work, patience, and trust, and the renunciation of individual freedom in favour of the richness of coalescence.

At the same time, the “freedom” of the individual is an illusion. We need each other. Alone we are not free, but bound by an unnatural state of disconnection. Which is not an argument against alone time, something I greatly value, but I recall too well the loneliness of those moments and days with only my own thoughts and spirit.

The value of human relationships is inherent; studies of prisoners show that people go mad without human touch. Outside penal walls we, the lucky “free,” endure the scrutiny and habits of others in exchange for the benefits of a loving relationship. In the end, successful long-term co-evolution allows us to enjoy deeply rooted connections of the heart until our final breath, one of the greatest blessings humans can offer each other.

Bruce Cockburn in Rumours of Glory: A Memoir 


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