Monday, September 17, 2007

Took out a loan for my patient soul

Someone shared with me, not too long ago, his view of relationships. He said that at any given point, one of the two people in any type of relationship is unfulfilled. This seemed rather gloomy an outlook to me; but after giving some thought to semantics I decided he was right. At any given point someone isn't getting what they want. Technically, perhaps, this is the same thing as being "unfulfilled." At any given point, perhaps you want something from me that is beyond the scope of what I can deliver. Perhaps I expect too much from you. Maybe I'm being unrealistic, unreasonable, unforgiving. Maybe you are. Strictly speaking, you are unfulfilled, as am I. But that's not the whole story.

How much does intent factor in on this type of situation? What of kindness? And, of course, small gestures -- often the biggest, the most prominent -- what of them?

I've taken a more holistic approach to my interactions with other people, it seems of late. Oh, my initial reactions tend to be of the same knee-jerk, Cro-Magnon variety they always have been, but somehow I'm managing to ride those out. We all need the benefit of the doubt, no?

A certain lack of fulfillment is necessary; our communication skills are rudimentary at best, our self-knowledge is lacking, despite society's obsession with it, and our moods are constantly shifting. When it's major, though -- that's when the pain kicks in. That's when talks must be had, decisions made, directions adjusted if need be. Maybe you just don't like me as much as I like you. Maybe you have no room for me in your life. Maybe you want more from me than I am willing to give anyone. Maybe I'll take what I can get, but for you it's everything or nothing at all. That's the tricky part. These are the things that hurt. Sometimes we hang on long past the time we should. Some stories combine just the right elements that speak to our own stories, like the edges of a crevasse lining up just so, becoming solid land again. The sketches of ourselves we hold in our heads end up running the show sometimes, and we continue to hold them up as Truth, rather than as empirical snapshots created long ago, out of necessity. It's worth investigating, I think.

Still and all, hurt is hurt, isn't it? And sure, it's one more reminder that we're alive, but sometimes a little mourning is in order.