Toni Thoughts: Relative Relativity

Those who have come to our workshops or who know us personally know that I have a special relationship with my mum, Mo. Sometimes it’s about bantering and bickering, being a foil and a mirror. Over the years it has been explosive, sullen, hilarious and uncomfortable. There have been painful years and loving ones. Things have settled down now I think and though there are still ups and downs, we each now try to accept the other’s flaws and preferences. And now I’m an adult and we’ve both acknowledged our demons and the ever-hungry past, we try to give each other mutual respect and most importantly time.

She spends time listening to me rant and ramble about the latest anxiety in my heart or waits for me to tell her in detail why she’s got something wrong. I spend time listening to her telling me what I should do to better care for myself and sharing with me her fears and ideas. And we each make sure to pick up. “That’s why it’s called a mobile!” is a common refrain in my family. We have to be available to each other. I hated this when I was younger but now there’s a comfort in being able to check in – to know that the person in my corner is there right now and I can reach out any time I want to.

Mum’s been on holiday recently and when she came back she felt like she hadn’t spoken to me for weeks. A text and a phone call did not register as the usual and comforting amount of contact she needs from me. This is a good example of relativity with relatives. We all experience time differently. When we’re older time can seem to fly by, but it can also drag heavily. It depends on what else is going on.

Mum had so many different experiences while she was away. She’s used to downloading experience to me on a regular basis – a constant drip drip of our lives that we share with each other. On holiday lots happened and I was nowhere to be found. This is what made it seem like a long time to her. For my part, I’ve been busy and for me the time has raced by but without anything surprising or new. I honestly didn’t register the fact that I hadn’t talked to her.

So what am I saying here? I’m saying, look at the people in your life or the clients in your room and walk a moment in their shoes. Do they experience things the way you do? Is their life blurring by – in need of a mindful spoke in the wheels to gain some perspective? Or maybe it’s trudging ahead, barely moving forward with each day an interminable and endless horizon that they feel like they never reach? Time is a tool – but can be a runaway train.