Structures for Healthy Relationships
Examining J. E. Gordon's book and various examples of building a healthy life.
J. E. Gordon's Structures is a book for engineers but also seeing how the world is made and endures stress.
October 23, 2021
I’m listening to the podcast on Spotify: “To Live and Die in LA.” It’s fascinating. Season 1, pertaining to the death of Adea Shabani, begins with a recording that depicts an unhealthy relationship. Although this recording is a metaphorical smoking gun to the series, the journey we take as listeners is a roller coaster. We follow the investigation and uncover facts in real time. By the end of the season, I’m left with a simple question: how do we break?
The question evokes a book I’ve been reading Structures by J. E. Gordon. It’s a book recommended by Elon Musk as essential for success.
"This book is about modern views on the structural element in Nature, in technology and in everyday life. We shall discuss the ways in which the need to be strong and to support various necessary loads has influenced the development of all sorts of creatures and devices – including man."
Gordon, J. E.. Structures (p. 14). Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.
It made me google “structures of healthy relationships.” I click on the first link from mass.gov and I found that healthy relationships can be hard, if not practiced. How many of us live this way? Many of the structures can be grouped together. Mutual respect, trust, honesty, and compromise seem to fit together mutually. However, individuality seems to be a stand out. Because the first few words can be given to you through parents or an institution like the church, individuality begs free thought. In fact, individuality can be a critique on the first few words. The way in which we define ourselves is the message we give back to the world therefore we have to evaluate and openly question who we want to be. What have we been told during childhood?
As we progress we see some other phrases that seem to go hand in hand. Good communication, anger control, fighting fair, problem solving, understanding, and self-confidence. Here again we see another phrase that stands out: being a role model. In order to live your individuality, you have to offer it up to other people as a proven way to live. Being a role model is an ultimate culmination of all the phrases. The final one, ensuring a healthy sexual relationship, speaks for itself. It also can be grouped with the other words.
I recently got into PGA 2K21 on PS4. There's a course building aspect that I dove head first into. Dove into it for the last 3 days. “Stuctures” kept echoing in the back of my mind:
"To make strong structures without the benefit of metals requires an instinct for the distribution and direction of stresses which is by no means always possessed by modern engineers; for the use of metals, which are so conveniently tough and uniform, has taken some of the intuition and also some of the thinking out of engineering."
Gordon, J. E.. Structures (p. 17). Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.
I built a course prior to this and I stumbled through it. However, this next course I learned from my mistakes and took my time. I’ve learned that building something, anything, requires forethought and note-taking. Ideas are only the beginning. In fact, it takes a series of ideas (good or bad) to make something that people can connect to.
I look at my golf course creation with pride but when I think back to the podcast it makes me think. Why didn’t the two main people not think about the structure of their relationship? It’s a relevant question for all of us. Hindsight is 20/20 and we all make mistakes but the podcast is about a murder that ruined the lives of so many people. Structures offers up great commentary:
"When we talk about structures we shall have to ask, not only why buildings and bridges fall down and why machinery and airplanes sometimes break, but also how worms came to be the shape they are and why a bat can fly into a rose-bush without tearing its wings. How do our tendons work? Why do we get ‘lumbago’? How were pterodactyls able to weigh so little? Why do birds have feathers? How do our arteries work? What can we do for crippled children? Why are sailing ships rigged in the way they are?"
Gordon, J. E.. Structures (p. 13). Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.
Why do things break? Physically or emotionally, what causes the break? What is the inherent question that we ask ourselves that serves as the foundation for our lives? I usually have a defining statement at the end of my posts that sums up my ideas but today it seems more poignant to leave with these questions:
Defining Healthy Relationships
How am I feeling today (mentally and physically)?
What's taking up the most of my headspace?
When did I last eat a whole meal?
Am I tired?
What will I engage in today that will bring me joy?
Maybe we can solve more problems by questioning our mental health.