All the Deep Things We Secretly Want to Talk About
If there’s one tool that’s proved indispensable in life, it’s relational skills. But to flourish in life? It’s deepening those relationships.
Sometimes I find it easier being abroad and being exposed to people I otherwise would have never encountered. It’s like we subconsciously know that we might only be in each other’s lives for a season, and that somehow liberates us to be vulnerable. The frequency of soul-digging conversations I’ve had here in Europe is quite refreshing, whether with American or Austrian or Australian. Mental illness, cultural identity, racial justice, family hardships, faith (or lack of), life direction, poop cycles: everything’s laid out on the table.
I’ve wondered why these interactions — the challenging and risky yet brave and hopeful ones — don’t naturally arise as much back at home. I’ve admired the emphasis on relationships in Danish culture, in large part because they don’t have pesky little things like monumental-socially-conditioned career + life ambitions getting in the way.
The irony is that we don’t wish to consume ourselves as such, but these concerns somehow become ultimate life goals as opposed to natural parts of life.
Yet concurrently, sharing those struggles allows us to further empathize with each other. I’ve realized it’s not that certain cultures or peoples pursue depth more than others; it’s moreso an matter of wherever you call home or find comfort. I think we as Americans gotten comfortable in our ambition, our busyness. Perhaps the Danes have gotten comfortable in their steady pace of life. Maybe Eastern cultures have gotten complacent in their tradition. There’s more to everyone, but living life and building relationships the same and only way we’ve ever known doesn’t always draw out that moreness.
So now what?
It’s hard to prioritize relationships. You can pursue breadth, but there is an unavoidable tradeoff in depth. We’re limited by time.
At the end of the day, I don’t know if there is anyone that would say that they feel more fulfilled by the small talk than the big. Not to say you’re meant to deep dive with everyone you ever meet, but there’s a reason why you especially jive with some people. This is where you need to stop doubting if it’s the “right” or “good” time or relationship. Life ain’t gonna stop, so why keep pushing back?
Could it be that our purpose for living is greater than death?
Interracial and crosscultural relationships are a great area of application. Our problem is that we don’t consistently engage on deeper levels with those from different backgrounds as ourselves. We’re passive, nervous, uninformed, and unsure of what the outcome could be. I mean yeah, the greater the risk, the greater the potential for misunderstanding and hurt…but likewise the magnified capacity for love and mutuality. I asked a Dane who studied in the States what he saw as a strength of American culture, and he replied with diversity. Considering the current drama over race in America: OHHH SNAP! We don’t realize what a blessing that is — that being crosscultural is conducive to that depth we’re searching for.
How is it so paradoxical that it isn’t in our human nature to pursue depth — yet at the end it’s what we seek to bring greater fulfillment in our life?
All in all, depth extends both beyond and within. Differing cultures or not, we reflect each other, so reevaluate who you’re surrounding yourself with and what your relationships are built on. Is it comfort, convenience, just some instant connection? Or is it intentionality?