Wednesday, June 4, 2008

15 feet apart.

I ran across this piece on - David Plotz, one of Slate's editors, and his wife, Hanna, an editor at the Atlantic, learned about an Arizona Buddhist couple who spent all of their moments no more than 15 feet apart, forcing them to share completely in one another's lives, thoughts, experiences and consciousness. So they decided to try it for the sake of investigative journalism. I find the concept completely fascinating and utterly ridiculous.

I think of two different relationships and what effect such an exercise (David and Hanna tried this for 24 hours) might have on them: my own relationship with my wife, and my parents' relationship with one another. My parents have been in Florida for four months or so, and in my mind's eye, I picture them together pretty much 24-7. Pressed together on a motorcycle whipping down the road, floating lazily in the pool, sleeping, ambling through the produce section of the grocery store, going for morning walks through the neighborhood, talking to me on the phone - it seems that they're never apart, and that they kind of like it that way. They must - they've been married 30-some years (sorry, Mom - I can't remember any more...)

Contrasting this is my relationship with Lauren. We're still at that breakneck-paced section of our young lives where we're focused on career building, advanced degree collecting, forming our world-weary opinions, exploring the caverns of our minds, and other vaguely individualistic pursuits. It means we spend a great deal of time - too much - apart. When we have weekend days together or are on vacation, we glom onto one another like high-school lovebirds because we get to just be together with no agenda. It's nice. But I wonder what would happen if we had to spend more than a day within 15 feet of each other at all times. We both like having "me-time," and perhaps I value it more than she does because some of my favored pursuits (watching football, boozing, voracious reading, ball-scratching, cooking various meats, violent movies, etc.) are not exactly her favorite things to do. But we manage our lives with the expectation that things will slow down and we'll be able to rest on our laurels one day the way our parents are able to. I think if we turn out like them, we'll be doing alright. And we'll be doing alright together - maybe even within 15 feet.

Read David and Hanna's thoughts here. But definitely watch the video.

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