For as little as I like the tie-dye and crystals that so often go along with the words holistic lifestyle, I think there is a lot to be said for looking at the simplest forms of function, and considering how your life might adapt to them. Even as metaphor, simple function reveals basic foundations for higher structure.
Consider the heartbeat.
When your heart is beating in a good, solid rhythm, it keeps your blood flow good and constant. Assuming your highway system of arteries, veins, and capillaries works properly, and the rest of your organs are cooperating, a steady, rhythmic heartbeat keeps you well oxygenated and flush with health. If you get your heart rate up with excitement or exercise for limited periods of time, it is even better. Your body reaps the benefits of that encapsulated increase. When your heartbeat slows to its resting rate, your body reaps the benefits of that slowed time for recuperation and repairs. However, if your heart rate is higher or lower for too long, it throws everything off and can cause other, radical problems.
I believe it is best to live your life like a heartbeat, within a steady rhythm of structure that works for you. It is okay to have stress or excitement in doses, but if you work in a pressure cooker of stress, or you’ve got someone jumping out from behind corners at you all the time, eventually, that’s going to exhaust your system and affect your whole life. Same for depressed conditions.
Specifically, I am thinking about relationships right now. I keep hearing people saying that they don’t feel the same initial passion for their partner, and think maybe it is time to move on. They still storge and phileo their partner, but they don’t feel so much eros. * Passion comes and goes, and comes back around again. That is the elevated part of the heartbeat rhythm. You can’t live in that state forever–it would sap the life out of you.
The best part of relationships come when you’ve known each other a while, and you can function alongside one another contentedly, without even realizing your contentment. The feeling of security and naturalized happiness that comes from familiarity is a beautiful thing. When your relationship reaches a level of involuntary muscle type service (meaning, it just happens on its own without you having to think about it), that is the best place. Yes, you have to do things to stimulate it and excite it, just like you need to exercise and elevate your heart rate for health, but you also need periods of rest, where the expectation is just for being quiet and still.
Most of the time, though, it should be a steady, unnoticed rhythm. You can put a finger on the pulse and feel that all is well. Steady doesn’t mean dead or dying–or boring. Steady means healthy and alive.
One other thing I have been thinking about, is how Thor is growing. He is growing right under our noses, so I don’t really notice it until his pants don’t fit and he’s wandering around in high-waters. When he has grown, I don’t go, “Oh no! Thor’s pants don’t fit anymore! Time to get a new kid to fit the 4Ts.” No, I buy him new pants.
Relationships are the same. We live together, constantly growing, and we may not even notice how our partners have grown and changed until our proverbial ankles get cold, and we realize our pants don’t fit anymore. That doesn’t mean it is time to change relationships. That just means it is time to go shopping for some new pants.
Shopping for pants takes time and effort. You have to get to the store, go into the store, look around the store, hopefully find what you want, stand in line to pay, pay, then get home and take the tags off and wash your new pants before you can put them on. So, if your relationship pants aren’t fitting right, don’t expect to just be able to go into your closet and pull out another pair with no effort. Chances are, those pants don’t fit either.
Take your time. Trust me. And buy quality pants. They last longer.
For small children, I suggest Garanimals.
*link goes to an article about the CS Lewis book, The Four Loves. I highly recommend this book. It is not an easy read, but it is an honest, almost surgical look at love, what we expect of it, and what it can really offer us. It almost entirely informed my view of what to look for in a partner–and I think I did pretty well on that count.