"My Girlfriend" by Jeff Foster
I look across the table at my girlfriend, Amy. And yet, of course, she’s not ‘mine’ at all. There is nothing here that could possibly possess anything, let alone another person. There’s nobody over there to possess anyway. She is my story, and I am hers. She is a character in my dream, and I’m a character in hers. I look across the table and what I see is a girl drinking a cup of tea. ‘My girlfriend’ is just a story. What is actually there? A girl drinking a cup of tea, right now. Yes, right now, this is all there is. Where is this thing called ‘our relationship’? All I can find is what is happening presently. A boy and a girl drinking tea together.
And not even that. Even ‘boy and girl drinking tea together’ is a story. There is only this: breathing, heart beating, sounds, colours, tea cups chinking, warm tea, voices, light, heat. This is all there is. And in this, there is never anything to separate us. So often in life something called ‘relationship’ comes between us, clouding the intimacy that has nothing to do with two separate people. It’s like a third entity hovering there between the two of us. Me, you, and ‘our relationship’. Our needs, our wants, our expectations of each other.
What happens when all of that falls away? What happens when all that carry-over from the past is rendered irrelevant? Then there is just this – a girl sitting there, drinking a cup of tea and talking, and her talking is aimed somewhere over here. It’s so incredibly simple. It’s the most uncomplicated thing in the world. Because she isn’t mine, there is no ‘relationship’ to defend here. Nothing to worry about, nothing to hold onto. No sense of possession at all.
Because she isn’t mine, I can see her in absolute clarity for what she really is. Because there’s nothing there getting in the way, there is the space to really listen, to really see, to just be here, drinking this tea, enjoying this moment together, which is all there is anyway.
Because she isn’t my girlfriend, there is only unconditional love. How unbelievably precious. How unbelievably simple.
And what freedom in that! There is simply nothing here keeping us together. We both have the absolute freedom to walk away. And yet, we haven’t yet. I’m always amazed by that: she has the absolute freedom to walk away, but she hasn’t yet. Maybe one day she will. Maybe one day I will. Maybe it will be tomorrow. Who knows what the future may bring? But for now, there is a girl sitting over there, sipping her tea, and what is left is a simple gratitude for her being here. I know she doesn’t have to be (because she is free) but she is. I know I don’t have to be (because I am free) but I am.
It’s all so very innocent: she’s just a girl, sitting there drinking tea, telling me about her day. There’s no desire to possess any of it. It is what it is, and it’s enough. Who needs a ‘relationship’ when this grace is already here?
And yet, if you ask, I’ll tell you that she’s ‘my girlfriend’. It’s my shorthand way of saying all of the above!