Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Work Relationship

The human experience is filled with varying qualities and degrees of relationships. There is the earliest contact between mother and child, between siblings and with pets, between friends, between lovers. All of these relationships make a dent in the pliable mold of skin and organs- although it is not the only thing that changes us, they certainly represent a large influence over our life. And once we are walking and talking and know how to bathe and feed ourselves, if we are so lucky, we will discover another kind of relationship. It is a working relationship. It begins with two people who consciously decide to go on a journey together. Since we begin blind and na├»ve to our habits and sleeping state, the relationship begins in a state of intuitive trust. A baby clings to its mother’s breast without asking for references, it just latches on, trusting it will be guided and cared for. A work relationship between adults begins in this way as well, with trust and an intuitive sense that this is the mysterious path to tread.
This is a delicate state, akin to the small sparks of twigs and crumpled newspapers which begin a great breathing fire. Each step along the path is taken slowly, with tenderness and strength. Piling too much thick pine wood on a slowly lighting fire could smoother the flames, too much lighter fluid could cause an explosion, while waiting too long to add the larger logs could also extinguish the mounting flames. It is a delicate balance, a fine razor’s edge.
A working relationship is maintained by constant devotion. Devotion to the constant work, devotion to the master who guides with all their ability, devotion to the objective of a waking state, devotion to honesty and keeping an open heart, devotion to transforming our negative habits into things of beauty that have the power to affect more than we normally understand.
It requires renewed trust when the moment feels bleak and the machine spins in turmoil. It requires renewed attention and focus each moment of the day when our thoughts drift into identified and distracted states. It requires self sacrifice: sacrifice of ego and image, sacrifice of personal glory and lifelong habits. These are not things we do once and then forget about it, like conquerors on deserted shores. These lessons and struggles continue throughout our lives, and each day we must sacrifice, sometimes more than once a day, for as long as breathe enters and retreats from our body.
A work relationship is the bond of people with a common objective. To reach the waking state is a test of endurance and practice and growing will. The people we work with are our partners in this practice. Together, as our energy mounts, we move higher in the labyrinth, holding hands and pushing higher still, we climb not knowing what comes. But we can only rise if the relationship works. If all partners are open, without barriers and machine masks. These artificial walls obstruct the flow of energy and love. They keep the relationship at its most base and human level, and at this level, we are asleep.
While some human relationships can continue to exist with lack of attention- like estranged parents and adult children- the working relationship cannot continue to function with neglect and unspoken aggression and distance. Negative emotions and manifestations, which are completely common and accepted in the world, like sarcasm and eye rolling, rudeness and harsh tones, all of these, while practically the norm at a typical family thanksgiving dinner, can destroy the working relationship. Machines will react to each other. Barriers will grow tough and impenetrable. A distracted moment, a careless sentence, a shrug of the shoulders; as small as they might seem, they can break a strong contact. It can shatter an elevated space. By constantly acting out our negative emotions, we can quickly forget what we are working towards and simply dwell in the sleeping state. The working relationship will always require more than what we are used to giving, it seems un-normal, and it is. It is absolutely special and tender, hold it with all the love you possess.

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