Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

“Autonomy with Connection”–in relationship

I experience and seek this contrast of autonomy with connection in my relationships. At the heart of my decision to have a place to live apart from my father's is this need to have a space and life of my own with its own momentum and direction. When I'm at my father's, I'm in Daddy's World. When I come across the river to West End Terrace, I'm in Janet's World. And, having this slight pause between worlds allows me to enter more fully into his world when I go back to the homeplace.

One of the most wonderful long weekends I ever spent was in Barcelona, Spain. I'd just been on meditation retreat for three months, living in a tent, surrounded by hundreds of people everywhere I went, including the sanitary blocks where the toilets and showers were. On my way home I stopped to visit friends I'd made on retreat, and the physical set-up couldn't have been more sympatico.

AUTONOMY: I stayed in a room rented from a pension, and felt my body relish the clean sheets on a real bed and the luxury of my own bathroom just steps away...and quiet...having a chair to sit in to read and write in privacy.

CONNECTION: Then, in the morning I went up a few flights of stairs and breakfasted with my friends on their rooftop garden. They helped me plan my day of pilgrimmage following the work of Gaudi and Tapies. They provided background from guidebooks, maps, directions, and cautions...much in the same way a caring family might. Thus provided for, I set out for my adventures.

In the evening, when I returned, I had an appreciative audience to tell my stories to. We could pool the day's stories as we dined late in the fresh air under the stars in the rooftop garden. Then, I walked down a few flights of stairs to my clean sheets and a real mattress for a good night's sleep.

Curt Madison said that once when he'd been on a film jury he'd met a Parisianne woman who told of this type of life. That she and her friends had their own apartments, but often dined together or visited together. Since they were artists, perhaps it was a little like an artist's colony (I've always loved that word and imagined a beehive), and perhaps they collaborated together across the arts. That's always been my ideal.

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3 Responses »

  1. Janet, it's easy to see why the time in Barcelona was one of those times that was engraved on your heart. How wonderful to be supported while exploring in a foreign land. To be a stranger there, but also held.

  2. I love the concept of autonomy in the midst of connection/community; being able to give and take, share or bring back to the fold new thoughts, ideas and experiences....or to relish solitary existence for a time. How sweet it is and you certainly share an exquisite view of it. Thank you.

  3. What an ideal set up: privacy & solitude when you want it; loving friends to be with nearby, too.

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