When we lose a loved one to death, misunderstanding or simply time, we tend to question not only fate and God but also every relationship that we still hold. If we have lost once, what is the guarantee that we will not lose another loved one again? How do we continue to love knowing very well that all loved ones will part from us one day or the other?
I found a simple explanation to this in a short four hour road drive, last week. When I started the drive, I was focused on the road, navigation directions and the miles ticking by. No sooner had I settled in the driving seat, my thoughts started drifting. The miles faded, the sun paled and the road became and endless zig-zag, black and white line. Many cars, trucks, motor cycles chanced upon me. My companionship with each one of them lasted only a few short seconds before either they sped off or I did, never to look back again. I never paid any attention to anyone. Not one of them seemed important enough.
Somewhere in the second hour, a black Hyundai appeared behind me. I was not sure how long it had been there, but it had now caught my attention. It was almost at the same speed as I was. It was trying to overtake me but I was not in a mood to give way. I was also trying to reach my destination as fast as possible. It did manage to speed ahead of me few times, but I managed to overtake it again till…. till a red Volkswagen appeared ahead of me. It was again at almost the same speed as both of us and now we were three playing the game of staying ahead. Over the next hour or so, we managed to stay together even though we were trying to lose each other. We, together, dodged trucks, went over rumbling river bridges, green grasslands, dense fog and crooked roads. Having covered so much ground together, we developed a bond, an understanding in this brief period. We started watching out for each other and congratulating each other with subtle signs, no one else on the road would have noticed. We were now together in this journey. Even though we didn’t even see or know the driver behind the wheel, we three were already in a relationship of companionship.
In the fourth hour, I managed to take lead after circumventing heavy traffic in a city. I smiled. I had outdone both of them. My joy was short lived. Within minutes, I realized I was not exactly leading. Oblivious to me, my companions had taken different turns somewhere in the city. I didn’t even realize when. They hadn’t even signaled goodbye. They had simply chosen the fastest path which would take them to their destination. They were no longer part of my journey.
Though there were hundred cars still around me, I felt alone.
I scanned the road for them for a few more minutes. But in my heart I knew they were gone, pursuing their own individual journey, just like me.
It was then that I realized that life is pretty much like a long distance car drive. While we meet thousands of people in our life, we only form special relationships with a few. Few who have chosen to travel at the same speed as us. Others just zip pass or stay behind. The special few, also, stay connected with us only till our paths coincide. Sooner or later, they too, will take turns which are different than ours. Sooner or later, they too, will be gone. Of course, when one (or more) of these companions take a different turn than ours, we feel betrayed and shattered. Weren’t we meant to travel together for the rest of our lives? Why did we meet in the first place, if there was no eternal future for us? Maybe, I am the one responsible for this. Maybe, I don’t know how to manage my relationships or take care of my loved ones. If it was not for me, they would be still here.
If you understood the car analogy, you will relate that when relationships part, there is no fault of any one individual. Relationships part, simply because they were meant to part. Simply because, each individual has their own destination to achieve. While you can ignore your own individual destination for some time, and chose to travel with your companion to his/her destination; sooner or later your own dream will call you again. If you do not follow your own dream, you will never be happy, inside, even while being with your companion. Wouldn’t it have been extremely silly and painful, for me, to pursue those cars ignoring the destination that I was headed for? Where would that have left me in my journey?
We have to realize that the journey we have chosen for ourselves, is ours and ours alone. We will get companions along the way, but we have to understand and respect that companions have their own journey to take as well. They will part in 10 minutes, 10 months, 10 years or 100 years. Who knows!?! But the fact is that no one, even your twin, husband, child or best friend will go the last mile, to your grave, with you. The only companion who will stay with you throughout your journey is you, yourself.
Does this mean that we should stay detached to companions? Does this mean that we should not invest in relationships?
Even though, I know that none of my family and friends are here forever, I believe in continuing to invest in my relationships and build deeper attachments with all of them. In fact, after the realization that no relationship is permanent, I invest more time in each relationship. Simply because, I never know if I will ever get a chance to show my love, again.
Like the two cars who joined me for an hour, each relationship, no matter how short or how deep, is important for the journey itself. Each companion has the ability to color our journey and make the journey worth travelling. Imagine a journey where you are only looking at a map and the miles on your odometer. Imagine a journey where you don’t collect a single story to tell. Imagine a journey, where you did not pick a single friend to share. Such a journey might sound exciting for some but it definitely doesn’t sound exciting to me!
Here’s wishing happy journey to all of you! If you agree with the car analogy, please share it with someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one. I hope they find the peace I have found.