In Praise of Co-Habitation

All of you who live lovingly with others—roommates, spouses, children, extended family members—astonish me. I asked some people what they think praise means recently, and two of my favorite responses were “to honor and recognize holiness” and to stand in awe of. Today I’d like to take a moment to praise healthy, happy—at least most of the time—co-habitation.

Sometimes after work I sit in my car and play word games on my phone to avoid interacting with my cat quite so soon. Granted, none of my former roommates clawed me if I didn’t play with them when I got home, but I started thinking about all my vanmates who get in their cars and drive directly home to care for or simply be with families and spouses.

A friend and I spent last weekend at New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur. That’s three days of sitting in your own room with your own little garden, seeing people only at services, and speaking only during our afternoon walks. I always find re-entry rough, but she has to readjust not only to noise and advertisements and Starbucks but also to another human being, her husband.

Living well with others requires a certain selflessness and self-sacrifice, a willingness to give up some of how you would rather things be, an openness to negotiation and renegotiation. In essence, a daily giving of yourself that can’t help but make the world more loving.

Of course not everyone manages to be as kind as they might like to be every day, but on balance, this daily and often not-so-simple caring for one another is a great good. Huzzah to you!

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