I was going to title this friendship, but looking back across my entries, it seems obvious that the thread running through them is a broader than that, it is about relationship: with ourselves, with God, with others, with the world around us.
For the chance to BE in relationship, I am grateful. I may refuse it; I may not be fully engaged sometimes; I may stumble my way through it. But when I'm there, being in relationship is the most amazing thing: whether it is with the moment, the ocean, a child, a friend - even someone whom I find difficult.
My feeling has always been that we cannot learn in a vacuum - we only ever learn in relationship: we have to engage with the material, engage with the teacher, engage with those around us. We learn most about ourselves when we are most vulnerable in the intimacy of relationship: deeply in tune with or deeply challenged by: others, ourselves, organisations, long-standing beliefs, our environment.
We can only ever learn if we are intimate, allowing people and things to touch us, to help shape us - smoothing out edges, knocking off corners, breaking through shells, allowing the real us to emerge. This cannot happen if we shut ourselves off from relationship.
Relationship and intimacy can be frightening: one has to be vulnerable and there is no controlling the Other. It's unpredictable, unexpected, can be incredibly painful, always transformational, and if we allow it, often magical.
But although it is deep, intimacy need not always be serious: it encompasses all emotions, and think of how one often knows a couple is close: shared smiles; shared laughter; a gentle tease.
In fact, humour is one of the best ways to connect - to enter intimacy and confirm closeness.
This morning, just such an occasion happened with one of my closest friends, when she mentioned she was off to make tea. I announced that I was considering marrying the plush ferret she gave me for my birthday, Ramachni (named after a beloved mage in Robert Redick's Chathrand Voyage). She completely approved, noting that she would marry her plush black panther, Magick.
I, however, had a problem in that I had fallen in love with this lot, who tap right into my weakness for the emotionally wounded, so I suggested that I would have to be plushly polyandrous, which led to the following discussion at her blog, where she'd posted our discussion:
Of course, what midnightsidhe neglects to mention is that she is the one who set me up with Ramachni! Another reason we are best friends.
*Returns to viewing 'plush animal grooms' website*
Well, I do try to remain modest about my match-making abilities, you see.
Also, you know what this means, don't you? If we're going to be Gonzo's sister-wives and the other primaries in this arrangement are Ramachni and Magick, not to mention all the other plush grooms you may acquire? WE ARE TOTALLY GOING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD.
Well indeed. Best not to be known as a shadchan; before you know it, you'll be inundated by humans and plushies looking for black market marriages.
Indeed, which means I will have to select my harem carefully. Dr Wood from the Clinic is a must, as is Dolly - that shapeshifting ability could come in handy for our plans of world domination...
Yes, exactly. It's not a vocation of mine, after all; I am merely a talented amateur.
She'enedra! *gasp* I do hope you weren't intending to select your harem irresponsibly before you realised the full implications of our impending domestic arrangement! One must take care not to be indiscriminate in these matters! Especially with your weakness; you could get sadly taken advantage of. Not all wolves-in-sheep's-clothing are like Dolly.
*Gasps in horror at the near disaster*
Oh, she'enedra! What was I thinking; I was going to marry for plushness and affection, even plushy need, NOT for the world domination plans. Ramachni has set me right on that. I was even considering a plush Tyrannosaurus Rex until Ramachni gently pointed out that short T-Rex arms combined with a massive head were completely useless when it came to world domination. I was crestfallen, but had to acknowledge his point.
What would I do without the two of you - my Gonzo sister-wife and my plush First Mate to keep me focused on the larger goal?
You would end up with forty-two plush husbands, all of whom were so severely wounded that they would be completely useless in our world domination plans. And you'd spend so much time helping them that you would be too, and this would be a problem, because Gonzo and I are too chaotic neutral to be left in charge and Magick is too prone to getting into complicated affairs with the wives of the wrong cats, and you wouldn't want your poor First Mate left trying to keep the rest of us in line, now would you?
While I agree with Ramachni that T-Rex is not really well-suited to inclusion in your plush-husband stable, may I suggest that there are other respects in which he might be useful? Suppose we need a diversion, say, or just to terrify a group of people. I should think T-Rex would be most useful under such circumstances.
But, you know, I don't think it would be a disaster if some of your mates were chosen for affection and plushy need. No reason to make dynastic sacrifices here; political unions can be problematic.
When someone gets you well enough to have the above conversation, you don't need serious to know it doesn't get much closer - and it has been one of the deepest friendships I've had - one that has pushed me the hardest, held the space in the darkest of times, kept me real and moved me light-years towards becoming my true self.
And that hard, deep work is only possible because we get each other well enough to discuss human-plush polyandry.
She'enedra - thank you is criminally insufficient, but I think you know the rest without my saying it, which speaks to the essence of this essay more eloquently than anything else I can say.
This one's for you.