During August, many parents and grandparents participate in the annual ritual of seeing children off to college. We just did this for my first grandchild, Hannah. As fate would have it she’s in Raleigh where a generation ago we took her mother, Kim, for her first school experience away from home.
It’s a time of mixed emotions for everyone. For the kids it’s a mixture of the elation of freedom, along with the anxiety of freedom. For the parents it’s a mixture of concern and sadness, albeit occasionally mixed with some relief. We grandparents get to take it all in and remember when we did all this and the jumble of emotions we felt.
We may even look forward to seeing our loved ones again at the next holiday. Arno talked about “the return”, or from the Hebrew, “tsuvah“. In practice it has a sense of repentance, but it translates as “return”. When Arno talked about it there was a sense of reunion with another. We go apart from each other and we look forward to the return, the reunion.
When we see our loved ones again they will have grown and become more worldly wise. They will have had encounters, only some of which they were prepared for. Tsuvah also means that we meet each other again in a higher, purer state. We learn from our experiences while apart and strive to bring something of value back to our subsequent meetings.
In all aspects of our lives, including our relationships, “the return” is crucial. If we learn from our time apart, when we meet again we have something to offer. Otherwise, if we have nothing higher and purer to contribute, we begin to deplete the other person and the relationship deteriorates over time.
It is always my desire, but not always my practice, to bring something fresh and new to my relationships. Sameness, staleness and predictability sap the life from them. Unless we meet our significant others at a higher, purer level, unless we look forward to the return, we will tire of each other and the relationship will die a painful, lingering death.