Intimacy is this mysterious thing. I know it when I feel it, and it is approximately the best thing in the world, but it’s difficult to define. Where does it come from?
I felt intimacy when I was staying with * in Seoul.
I felt intimacy when I rode the train up to Massachusetts with * and * for the weekend.
I felt intimacy when I spent the day walking around with * in Seoul.
I felt intimacy when I walked around the beach with * and * in Jeju.
I felt intimacy when I crammed myself into a cab with * jumped in the water.
I feel intimacy when I’m with *.
I feel intimacy when I’m connecting with someone on a date.
I feel intimacy when I’m hanging out at home with roommates at home.
I feel intimacy when I’m hanging out with my family in the same room.
I felt intimacy when I was on my small group trip to Japan.
I felt intimacy when I was building * in San Antonio every time I broke off from the group to join * for a coding session.
I felt intimacy when I spent last Sunday hanging out with *.
I felt intimacy at * coworking space in the Bronx with *.
I felt intimacy when I stayed with * in Portland.
I feel intimacy when I’m alone, enjoying a moment of introversion, appreciating my own life and myself.
Intimacy is when I feel a deep presence of me and an other person or a few other people. It seems to boil down to presence. I feel intimacy when the people that I am with and I’s minds are all there with each other and not wandering to other thoughts. When we are going through a shared experience. When we are on the same wavelength. When we are feeling the same feelings together. It’s something that arises when I really feel someone else’s spirit there with me.
It’s funny how there can be so much interaction in life that is totally void of intimacy. Almost all interaction, in fact. As it turns out, intimacy is rare.
Most interaction is transactional. Other interactions want to be intimate, but for one reason or another, aren’t. Perhaps someone has a psychological filter, or maybe they are too tired, or too distracted, or too apathetic, or too arrogant, or for whatever reason form some belief around why they can not or should not connect with the other person.
Of all things in life that I desire the most, intimacy is at the top of the list. I just want to be happy, and intimacy is the thing that makes me the happiest. Second to that, I just need to be in good health, to have a sense of purpose in life, and to have the right level of stimulation - too little and I’m bored, too much and I’m stressed. With boredom, you don’t find enough to talk about with someone. With stress, you are distracted and don’t want to connect. It’s the golden area in between where everything falls into place.
The thing about travel that I like most is that it creates moments of deep intimacy automatically. You don’t really have to try that hard to find it, it just happens. You take a bunch of people and replant them temporarily in a new city where they know nobody else and where they are plucked out of their job and life obligations, and they connect with each other. They become the most interesting things to each other, second only to navigating the new place they are in. They end up finding it nice to rely on each other for navigation, for company, for entertainment, and suddenly there is intimacy.
One of the hardest things in life is returning from a long trip, or an intense project where intimacy is baked in. I form intimate connections with my coworkers or your travel mates and then I return home only to realize that my life for the coming months is going to be me up of momentary connections. A coffee here; a dinner there. And once again, it becomes time to seek out connection.