I love The Oxford English Dictionary. Seeing the evolution of words excites me. The book shows us from whence modernity came.
This weekend, as a result of a lecture on "intimacy" I decided to find out how long that concept has been around. In English, the idea of intimacy as a kind of "closeness" only arrived in the mid-17th Century as did "intimacy" as a euphemism for sex.
Now, we know that physical intimacy has been around a lot longer than three centuries. There are so many of us here. But why did the idea of closeness only arrive in the 17th Century? Well, the dictionary does not answer that question. If you know, I'd love to hear it.
I've been exploring what it can mean for us today. To expand beyond the dictionary definition and consider what realms of possibility exist.
This weekend's lecture was astounding. These blogs draw on life experience (primarily) sources, scholarly journals, professors,books, seminars, courses, etc.
This learning that I will share today, however, comes from Landmark Education.
They teach several distinctions about intimacy that took the wind out of me. Hope some of it resonates with you.
What is Intimacy?
They define intimacy as "the possibility of being fully known and fully knowing another." That definition, FYI, is not in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Not Related to Proximity or Blood Relationship
Intimacy is not a function of the kind of relationship you have or your proximity. In other words, just because you talk to your best friend or brother everyday does not mean that you are most intimate with that person.
You actually may feel more intimately connected with someone you knew years ago than your current partner. Great thought, right?
Haven't you shared a moment with someone, maybe someone you only knew for a day, week or a month, that felt so connected that you breathe differently just thinking about it?
For me, the sensation is like one of floating...one of total self-expression and ironically, freedom. Intimacy in our culture can so often connote being so close that we are overly enmeshed. The best intimacy, however, somehow feels comfortably close and comfortably separate.
Two distinct beings pausing in this celestial experience for a real "hello"
Intimacy as a State of Being
Lastly, intimacy is not what you do, it's how you're being. You can either walk around being someone other people can be close to or you can perpetuate the feeling of fear between people.
It's up to you.
You can be a "clearing" for intimacy.
I love this idea of serving as a clearing for others. During my research, I have felt like a clearing for Holocaust-pain.
These ideas most resonated with me:
1. Intimacy is about fully knowing and being known
2. Intimacy is not about proximity
3. Intimacy is a state of being. You can be a clearing in the world for intimacy.
Eager to hear your thoughts...though you'll have to be vulnerable for it to be any good. Be brave...
Sarah Federman, PhD
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My other blog Language of Conflict addresses the importance of word choice and narration in conflict.
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