“Billy Corgan. Smashing Pumpkins.”
“Homer Simpson. Smiling politely.”
When you think of relationships how do you think of them?
Like, the vast majority of relationships are temporary. That’s a sad truth, maybe, but that’s the way it goes. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Whether it’s because a couple splits because one has to geographically move away, or because a couple grows apart and realizes that they have little in common. Excruciating yes, but natural and healthy.
I’m not talking about marriage in this context, though, because in my mind marriage is a decision or commitment to weather the vicissitudes.
But when people are in a relationship we all pretend it’s going to last forever. Even teenagers. Then again, teenagers often have the luxury or illusion of Now being all there is.
When it comes to people and relating with others, as with life, I have a kind of philosophy or ideal. Expect nothing, but be open to anything.
I suppose that requires unpacking, huh.
I was having a conversation with a friend a while ago about relationships and we were discussing whether or not that mindset is fatalistic or cynical. I don’t think it is.
I think a lot of the “harm” we do to one another is based on expectations that we project on to others. There are valid expectations, of course. If I say I’m going to be somewhere at a certain time, you have every right to expect me to be there. If I were to get married, my wife has every expectation that I’ll be faithful to her and open and honest about finances. Right?
There are spoken and unspoken expectations. And negotiation when it comes to fulfilling them.
But here’s another example. When I moved back to Baltimore from California I was kind of psyched in a way. I was depressed and distraught about leaving my California life behind, but I was stoked about being back on the East Coast where all my old friends, musicians and colleagues are. I thought that with a few phone calls and emails I’d all of a sudden have a rich and full social life with all of my old high school and college people. Just like that.
And when that didn’t happen after a few months, a few seasons, a few years it really weighed me down. Why? I couldn’t blame anyone. Everyone had their own lives going on. Some were starting families, some were buying houses, some were moving, some were marrying, some were getting divorced, some were in financial trouble, some were traveling, some were generally busy as hell.
What I was expecting from all of these people (as a collective) had nothing to do with reality.
We do the same thing on an individual level, too. It’s subtle sometimes. We have maybe a subconscious expectation that a friend or significant other will make us feel a certain way. They’ll provide a feeling of security, stability and safety. They’ll make us feel worthwhile and special. They’ll remember all the little things and what we know/want/like and they’ll anticipate our whims.
I went to a party a few months ago. Some friends I haven’t seen in a long time. They’re a married couple now and I haven’t seen much of them for years since they entered their married homeowner life. You know. It’s another stage or phase of life. Sucks for me because they’re amazing people, but it’s where they’re supposed to be. If that makes sense.
They also know lots of amazing people. I briefly met a few women at the party and gave them my card. I was excited to have met new people. Driving home and for, like, the next few days in my head I was thinking, “Please please please please please….”
As in, please, I hope they call or write or express any interest in any way by giving me their info or whatever. Didn’t happen. C’est la vie.
I went to the party thinking that I’m open to meet people and engage people and to socializing and what that entails. Taking “risks”. Or to put it another way, putting myself out there. But that also requires being open to success or failure.
It requires a long view. Not everything happens on my schedule, but actions and interactions ripple out and we encounter the waves again, often in unexpected ways.
Sanding down the edges
I don’t mean any of this as a cop-out, by the way. This isn’t meant to be a rationalization for my normal state of introversion or shyness. It’s not meant to be a fatalistic or deterministic dismissal of the challenging things in life.
I’m NOT saying that we shouldn’t expect things or that we shouldn’t expect things from each other. Just that those expectations should be managed. I think that also includes communicating. Sometimes that includes a reality check. You know.
“I expect x.”
“Well, I don’t know if I have x. Sorry.”
Being open, to me, means being aware of all of the possibilities that we encounter throughout the day. The conversations with strangers that lead to more knowledge/understanding or business connections or friendships. The spontaneous urge to go a different way or drive down that street you’ve never driven down before. The willingness to try something new and step out of your comfort zone a bit.
I have no idea why I thought of this. I’m about to go mountain biking and I had a brief idea and thought I’d note it. Turned into this blog. Very interesting.
Okay. Much to do. Mtn biking, websites, music. Better hop to it.
Enjoy your weekend, everyone! It’s beautiful out.
Don’t Make Me Love You
How Long Has This Been Going On? (MJ Cole Remix)
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Mbanga Kumba (Two Cities, One Train)
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
The Smashing Pumpkins
Get It Like You Like It
O Green World