I did something last night with my wife that we haven’t done in a very long time…
Okay, not from that far back, but it certainly feels that way.
Last night, we had a date night. No kids, no blog, phones tucked away, and all focus on each other.
Well, each other and my pitcher of locally brewed German-style wheat beer.
One-on-one interaction with friends, significant others, a new acquaintance, and even our personal paths is the quintessential form of Immersionism. Indeed, the Path of Immersion in any relational context is the intercourse between persons, feelings, interests, and ideals. This includes date nights with your significant other, going out with your best friend, playing with your kids or pet, time in prayer/meditation, and yes, even a mature debate between two minds of opposing views.
As I journeyed through Project Conversion last year, it was this selfless dipping in and out of the context of others that transformed me and opened my eyes, heart, and mind to the philosophy I hold dear today. When we lower the defenses of our egos and swim freely within the life of another, we awaken the most glorious component of our humanity.
My date with Heather last night helped me realize five ways we can implement the Art of Immersion in any situation:
1) Objectively Recognize the Position of Another:
In other words, see others exactly as they are, not as you’d like them to be.
When my oldest daughter and I jog in the morning, I could easily demand that she keep up with my pace, but in doing so I dismantle the interaction. Instead, I match her pace and we run together while steadily building her speed and stamina. Now, we are no longer just running, but forming a relationship. When I am older and she is in her prime, perhaps she’ll do the same for me.
2) Give Selflessly without Expectations:
James Francis Byrnes once said that “Friendship without self-interest is one of the rare and beautiful things of life.” This is that economy of experience and compassion I always talk about. What would happen if we dove into the waters of another without reservations? What would happen if we set sail on the ocean of humanity without projecting sea monsters lurking beneath every wave? We must stop looking at our interactions with one another as opportunities for profit and more as opportunities for mutual enrichment.
3) Immersion does not Accept Pre-Existing Conditions:
Project Conversion required that I abandon most if not all inhibitions about religion and its various devotees. Had I entered the waters of that experience with my former prejudice, I would have never learned to swim. Although the interfaith movement is growing, inter-religious fear and suspicion remains a deadly cancer in the body of humanity. Much of this fear stems from misunderstanding and ignorance. There are those who profit from propagating such animosity, but I’m here as proof that there are far greater riches in store once we evacuate our prejudices and allow new experiences and information to challenge the status quo.
4) Rivals are the Fertile Soil of Personal Growth:
Healthy competition is one of the best aspects of a relationship. If deconstruction is the cradle of creation, then our rivals are the architects of the cradle. Nothing, not our bodies, minds, or even faith develops without tension and friction. Jesse Owens said that “Friendships born on the field of athletic strife are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.”
When we lend ourselves freely to that intercourse between ourselves and others, we invariably come away altered. In this economy, each party obtains a piece of the other. We plant seeds and are in turn fertilized with new ideas, new goals, new perspectives, and growth becomes imminent. The ashes of experience is the fertile soil of growth.
5) Sail Uncharted Territory:
John A. Shedd said that “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” In yesterday’s post I talked about how cost is the threshold to the Path of Immersion. What lies beyond my comfort zone? What lies beyond my prejudices, the status quo, beneath the surface of someone’s life? We will not grow, humanity will fall, if we lack the courage to seek one another out in a selfless spirit of love and compassion. But that journey begins where our fears and inhibitions end.
In many cases, sailing these unknown waters means trusting others with your secrets, sins, and fears. If a pool of water has no outlet, the water becomes stagnant, however once we break down those walls, the water flows freely and ushers in life. This means allowing others to immerse themselves in your life as well. Are you ready to cross the line?
How might these points help with your interactions with others? Are there walls and boundaries in your life that need to come down?