Failing has a strange depth. I wish you knew how it felt. It's like growing up too fast, dying too young, and disappearing too quickly. As if someone took away your dreams, and suddenly you stopped believing in miracles. You're not giving up, but the direction has changed, radically. You see people around you, and it does not seem like they've found the same issue- and perhaps they'll never will. It's hard not to envy them. You could believe in renewal, change, and aspiration, but you simultaneously know that they do not last. You could change countries, date again, and figure out what's the missing piece of yourself you were so daring to find, but you know that everywhere you'll go, the same issue will come up again. You could go for the fast high, the quick fix, you could get into drugs, flirt with every new potential prey, sleep little, write every day, feel a little bit like a rockstar, and call this a life, or you could isolate, reflect, drowned into a sadness that at least feel like a real mirroring of your life. Failing has a strange depth. It's a static one. You'll drown if stuck in quicksand if you try to get away too fast. So you're staying there, patiently waiting to see what can be found. In the meantime, you'll hear others, talking about the future, about their hope for a love that, this time, will be final, about their quest, about their drive to live, fuck, and die, and yes, they're showing you all the possible butterflies, and yes, I fucking see them too, but I also know that they're soon about to die. Failing has a strange depth. Failing once is a small and secretive tale, it is one that we keep for ourselves because, who knows, it could be bad luck, it could be the other, it could be the weather, it could be... Failing a second, a third, and even more, have the taste of a slow and bitter realization of the real. But trust me, it's easier to fail alone. When you fall with others, you not only have to endure the grieving and the passing of those wounds, but you simultaneously have to take care of others. While, on paper, it does not sound too bad, the presence of another being in your crumbling world engraves these experiences into the mold of your identity. You can try to move on, but someone will always know about you, someone will always remember that. And when you fall asleep next to a new stranger, you can always tell yourself lies, but someone out there will always recall, and in some ways, their knowledge is part of the composting in this universe. It forever remains. Failing has a strange depth. I wish you knew how it felt. You cannot unsee it. It's this annoying tattoo someone else drew for you and which you thought you were not fully responsible for. One day you wake up and it's all over your body. It's this word you were only using a few times in a year that now is stuck in your repertoire and without you even noticing, became your entire mantra. It's the story you thought you'd never tell, it's the story of others, it's the tale of those of wait, who claim to be the victims, it's the poetry of those who die. Now it's yours too, and there are no places where you can go where you'll be able to hide.

Failing has a strange depth

Under usual conditions, we tend to glide through the world without paying much attention to its intricate texture. Meeting the demands of the day often requires that we temporarily disregard our surroundings; we procure our everyday efficiency by suspending our connection to those parts of the world that do not serve our practical concerns. One of the amazing powers of love is that it offers a potent remedy to such carelessness. When we fall in love, dimensions of the world that have remained blurry or marginal suddenly click into focus for us. Neglected aspects of our environment clamor for notice. Facets of life that we normally ignore take on a heightened significance. Through an openness to those shades of our surroundings that usually remain eclipsed, we become keenly attentive to the myriad details of our lives.
While our ordinary preoccupations take place in the world, they also, in some ways, distance us from it. They distract us from the worldness of the world, as it were, because they are designed to allow us to make use of the world rather than to become fully and passionately immersed within its folds. In this sense, navigating the routine tasks and liabilities of life is not at all the same thing as being in touch with the pulse of the world. What is so wonderful about love is that it reconnects us to this pulse. It cuts through the din of our regular concerns so that we feel uncompromisingly real, aligned with the roundedness and timelessness of being. Yet we also feel firmly anchored in the here and now, embedded in the concrete materiality of the world. In a way, we are able to touch the sublime without ever leaving the world behind.

∆ Mari Ruti, from The Summons of Love (Columbia University Press, 2011)

Mari Ruti, from The Summons of Love (Co…

I’m interested in the possibility of a redemptive intimacy developing between strangers who agree to enter a relationship — not necessarily romantic — premised on unvarnished and intentional truth telling about our traumas and fears from the conception of the series of interactions. To turn inward and reveal who we really are and what we need in this moment, almost like descending from the mountaintop rather than climbing up it. The descent requires its own form of acclimatisation and is not to be underestimated. It’s intriguing to me then: working backwards from the most fundamental parts about me rather than trading high school anecdotes and much later, perhaps, the first instance of violence. I am also curious about how an awareness of a relationship being framed as an experiment impacts or directs the interactions that unfold. What festers at the root might be this: By removing judgment, do we create atmospheres ripe for flourishing? By laying out margins for trial and error from the outset, simple human flaw, do we craft a different type of relationship... one that is unthreatened and worthwhile? I want to disrupt the linearity of the ways we can relate to each other.

How does a shared history with people from formative periods of our lives impact the people we are trying to become now? Can personal links to that actually hinder the healing process and cloud present judgment based on the past? My recent self-examination has circled around freeing myself from my own past and baggage and whether embarking on that is as simple as a resilient mindset. I have often felt more freedom with the stranger, the person who has no direct connection to my histories: the places I have lived, my parents and friends, school and college. Inaccurate reputations and yes, past lovers. Maybe this freedom arises because there is no element of obligation nor expectation nor fear — no judgment and at least initially, caring about whether they like me or not. This allows me to be painfully honest. What if we could say to each other: I want to enter a mutual process of deconstruction with you, starting with the things I am most ashamed of.

Could we help each other grow sustainably? Let’s break away from the immediate gratification of certain connections and instead cultivate joy, healing, connection — free from attachment?

Redemptive Intimacy — Emily Nabnian