Our Non-Human Relationships
We have many non-human relationships.
Our relationship with food. Our relationship with time. Our relationship with money. Our relationship with our devices. Our relationship with our things.
We might not call these relationships: food, time, money don't talk back to us, go bowling with us, offer us relationship advice. (Devices, admittedly, are a different kettle of fish.)
But our lives are deeply interwoven with each of these elements. They influence our mood - we crave chocolate cream pie and are unable to think of anything else, we stress over not having enough time and money. We interact with these nonhuman things regularly and intimately. And to me, that's a relationship.
Which, I believe, means we need to tend to them as we would any relationship. Otherwise, we run the risk of being unconsciously shaped by them, beholden to them, hunching subserviently over devices and saying, "I don't have time," too easily and too unthinkingly.
Much of my suffering around these nonhuman things comes because I haven't chosen how I want to be with them. Which leads me to inhale my food and get anxious, anxious about money. All these behaviors that pull me away from my basic humanity and decency.
Our relationship with our nonhuman things impacts our humanness. So we need to choose what kind of a relationship we want to have with them. Because the truth is, we already do have a relationship with them. Why not choose the terms of it?
This isn't an easy, one-and-done choice. I'm constantly re-negotiating my relationship with food, my phone, the way I relate to time. But it is an important choice.
And if we're struggling to figure out what kind of a relationship we want to have, we can always start with a grateful one. Grateful for our food, time, money. After all, there's nothing like gratitude to bring us more fully into our humanness.