In Aboriginal worldviews, nothing exists outside of a relationship to something else. There are no isolated variables—every element must be considered in relation to the other elements and the context. Areas of knowledge are integrated, not separated. The relationship between the knower and other knowers, places and senior knowledge-keepers is paramount. It facilitates shared memory and sustainable knowledge systems. An observer does not try to be objective, but is integrated within a sentient system that is observing itself.
“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives. Numerous studies of disaster response around the globe have shown that social support is the most powerful protection against becoming overwhelmed by stress and trauma.
Social support is not the same as merely being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart. For our physiology to calm down, heal, and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety. “
- Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Profound friendship is a form of love. It's finding ways of being in each other's lives without feeling attached, unbound to classifications and qualifiers. I appreciate fluid senses of belonging and being in the presence of others. This type of friendship is possible when people think of each other with deep kindness and treat each other gently, forgiving each others mistakes and always thinking of their best intentions. There's a common misunderstanding that love is about finding someone, that you need someone to be in love. I think that's not true. Loving yourself as you are, is always the most fundamental lesson to learn from a relationship.
We are individuals first, yes, just as bees are, but we exist in a larger social body. Society is not only real; it’s fundamental. We can’t live without it. And now we’re beginning to understand that this “we” includes many other creatures and societies in our biosphere and even in ourselves. Even as an individual, you are a biome, an ecosystem, much like a forest or a swamp or a coral reef. Your skin holds inside it all kinds of unlikely coöperations, and to survive you depend on any number of interspecies operations going on within you all at once. We are societies made of societies; there are nothing but societies.
Understanding of the self only arises in relationship, in watching yourself in relationship to people, ideas, and things; to trees, the earth, and the world around you and within you. Relationship is the mirror in which the self is revealed. Without self knowledge there is no basis for right thought and action.