This summer I spent a considerable amount of time in and out of airports. As a keen observer of people, I could not fail to notice the rituals by which families and loved ones greet each other hello and goodbye. These rituals say a lot about the type of relationship people share. Even when accounting for cultural differences, it is noticeable when two people are connected in a deep and meaningful way. There are friends, families and partners who bow to each other; their bodies separate, but perhaps their hearts and minds connected. Their shields are often so rigid that it is difficult to discern what real emotions reside within. There are the friends who only give each other a pat on the back. Their eyes and smiles, however, speak of a deep longing for the reunion that is finally here. There are the numerous families who barely say hello, and those who spend considerable amount of time carefully greeting each and every member of the family. There are the young parents arriving with their kids in tow to visit their own parents, the grandparents. During these encounters, a beautiful display of profound love is evident between the grandparents and their grandchildren. However, one cannot ignore the noticeable emotional distance that sometimes exists between the young parents and their own parents. There are the lovers who give each other a short and fleeting peck on the cheek or lips, and those who linger in a long, deeply felt hug, often accompanied by a loving, passionate, lustful kiss. There are the business men and women who have no one greeting them at the airport. The consummate traveller who is unaware of what unfolds around them. And those, perhaps still fresh to the frequent flyer lifestyle, who, with a longing that speaks of loneliness, look onto those who greet each other with love, joy and pleasure, perhaps, deep down, secretly harbouring a wish that they too had someone present to show a profound appreciation for the reunion. Intimate, adult relationships are built one day at the time, one tiny gesture at the time. Yes, the big gifts, gestures and experiences add value too, but nothing reaches deep, as deep as daily gestures of love, compassion, empathy and consideration do. As we journey through the second half of summer, remember to pay attention to the details. Look at your partner, really look at them, and give them something they want. Pay attention to your own needs, scrutinise them closely, and ask for something you need. Greet your loved ones as if you were reuniting at the airport after a significant time apart. Build your relationship palace one brick at the time.
Photo by ANTONI SHKRABA production