Letter From the Editors
Upon being born we are cellularly driven to orient vertically. This orienting can be one of our most fundamental human experiences. From infancy on our bodies are dancing with the pulls of gravity, testing the boundaries of our forms on a vertical plane, trying to sit up, straighten our spines, acquire mobility and agency in the world in the unique ways we each do so.
Yet, verticality is not a fixed or rigid state. Rather, it is a dynamic one. It requires countless and continual fine adjustments that respond to gravity exerting constant pressure on our bodies, trying to bring us ever closer to the center of the earth. Over the course of our lives, mostly without our awareness, we are in a continual state of resisting that pressure through our physical posture, the processes of our internal organs, and even in the ways, we orient in our perceptions, relationships, and communities.
Gravity shapes our emotional selves as well. Elizabeth Burford, a psychotherapist working on childhood development for the past 3o years, asserts that our early strategies for resisting gravity to attain an upright position are transferred to our concept of self-worth, power, and independence. The physical structures we create in play and discovery thus reflect our own emotional landscapes, forming a sense of inner gravity, and creating varying ‘orbits’ around the ideas, people, and things we are drawn to or repelled by throughout our lives.
It’s easy to take gravity for granted, until, for instance, we fall or lose our balance or more explicitly, until we’re forced to. Similarly, our various orbits can go unnoticed. How often do we take stock of the self-imposed boundaries around the capacity, diversity, and health of our relationships? Or how these boundaries affect the overall trajectory of our lives? We’re so often bouncing and moving within our orbits without consideration of how they integrate (or don’t) into a larger frame.
In thinking about right relationship for this year’s issue, the editors invite you to respond with a sincere and buoyant curiosity, to ask the larger questions, those that allow you to really see and be seen fully, and to be willing to be held accountable and responsible for what comes with the seeing. This taking stock of our social solar system, as it were, is the first step we believe, in moving towards integration and ‘right’ relationship. Integration occurs through balance, or consciously acknowledging those small adjustments we make in response to the various pressures exerting or requiring energy. Emotionally, it occurs when we model healthy physical and emotional responses to our relationships and the world around us. Balance and verticality are intimate partners that draw on this integration, each part being acknowledged for its role and function and working in harmony to allow for well-being, stability, and flow.
Flow happens as we engage in a living relationship with our imperative need for transformation and growth. Writer Sarah Schulman says, “most of the pain, destruction, waste, and neglect towards human life [and more than human life} that we create on this planet and beyond, are consequences of our overreaction to difference. This is expressed through our resistance to facing and resolving problems, which is overwhelmingly a refusal to change how we see ourselves in order to be accountable”. In encountering the Other, in engaging with relationship in whatever form, the choice to be changed is continuously presented. Our willingness to surrender to our own evolution holds us accountable to orbital balance and manifests flow.
Flow allows us to access our innate interoception, or the ability to sense what is happening in our bodies, thoughts, and feelings, and to somatically honor and extend sacred bonds of kinship to and with the cosmos in recognition that for better or worse, we AND everyone and everything around us, are forever enmeshed within it, are part of it.
Philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler in an interview with the Other journal, speaks to that enmeshment most aptly:
“I suppose it is first important to honor the obligation to affirm the life of another even if I am overwhelmed with hostility. This is the basic precept of an ethics of nonviolence, in my view. So though we imagine that we throw our lot in with others, the fact is that others are impinging upon us all the time. We were thrown into a world of others way before we made any decisions whether or not to throw our lot in with others. Decision only happens in the context of a prior entanglement. That can be a tie of ambivalence, but it is a social tie or bond, one that is sometimes nearly impossible to fathom. And that we are all equally in that bind, as it were, implies a kind of equality from the start. We can rebel against it, but the truth of that sort of equality is larger than our rebellion. It means that action is always implicitly plural and reciprocal, even when that is not the case in existing circumstances.
It is not only that we may not choose with whom to cohabitate, but that we must actively preserve the unchosen character of inclusive and plural cohabitation; we not only live with those we never chose and to whom we may feel no social sense of belonging, but we are also obligated to preserve their lives and the plurality of which they form a part.”
In this issue, you will find contributors taking deep stock of their orbits while inviting us to think and feel deeply into the spaces and trajectories of our sacred cohabitation.
We hope you enjoy reading, watching, hearing…dwelling in these pages.
With sincere and heartfelt gratitude,