The standard list is pretty much the same for everyone; a job with enough money, people to love and love you back, your health in place… the basic needs for a relatively happy life.
Are these “basics” in place for me and my wife? Yeah, they are.
So what you’re about to read could very well make me seem “small” in your mind. You may never want to read another word I write. You may think I’m ungrateful and immature or egocentric. Maybe I am.
But I don’t want to be.
I want to be so secure and confident and autonomous that I don’t need validation from others. I’m getting better with that. I don’t beg for compliments or super approval at work. I don’t demand that everyone talk about me at parties or hear what I have to say. I’m a listener.
And as far as my blogging goes… well, sure, I’d love to have more readers and comments. I’d love to know I’m making a difference, maybe helping someone with their problems. I’d love to connect with you all. But if it doesn’t happen, I won’t beat myself up.
Still, friendships are important to me – but they’ve got to be honest.
So when someone close to me dies, which is the most honest thing anyone can do, I look around my life and the people within it and ask, where is honesty, truth and loyalty? How much of that am I actually living? Or is my life a façade of social ritual meaning very little? Because when someone dies, it’s too late to finally make that meeting happen that you kept promising.
I often write about this topic, “truth and honesty,” because so little of it is expressed in our society. And this lack of sincerity, with its manipulation and deceit, really bothers me, because it doesn’t have to be this way.
It really doesn’t.
But lying and cheating or simply “blowing you off” is everywhere. And I’m still trying to come to terms with it.
That’s why, when I meet a person with integrity, I want to be their friend. I want to keep their purity concentrated and hold it near me. I want to feel like I have backup, and that the world can be trusted. I want to believe people are basically “good” and kind and generous. I want to believe we are all safe and that there is nothing to fear.
I want to believe all that. But I can’t. Not yet.
All I can do, is make my personal world a little more ethical by populating it with honest and sincere people.
It ends up being a very small world.
Maybe that’s me. Probably is. Maybe I expect too much of people. Or maybe I expect the worst and get it.
If that’s the case, I’m messing up. And I should change it. But for that to happen I have to believe in the righteousness of humanity. Tough one for me.
Generally I think most people are greedy, fearful, self-centered, lazy and uninformed. I know. Sounds elitist and conceited. But that’s the world I see in the workplace, in the news, worldwide. It’s a Me-First Universe.
Sure, there are many exceptions. There are wonderful people out there. But 99.9% of those souls are not in my world. They’re not physically close to me, or want to be more open when I meet them. This may be another reason why I entered the social network. Closeness comes in a various packages, and I seek them.
My Aunt Elly died two weeks ago, the third death of a close friend or relative in five months. And as I started to tell you already, when people die around me, I reevaluate my connections to the people still living: the people I call my “friends” and my extended family. And then I get “real” with them. I reach out… or I cut them loose. And I tell them why.
Lately I’ve been calling aunts and uncles and cousins to wish them a happy holiday. No worlds got rocked but they told me it was nice that I called, and that appreciated it. I guess that’s all that’s necessary, that they know I care about them.
But I also care about getting my own feelings hurt, which still happens. And I try to avoid it.
One of the ways I stop getting hurt, is dropping insincere friendships. This usually happens after I attend a funeral.
Here’s a story. Tell me if I did the right thing or if I need counseling:
I’ve been friendly with John for twelve years. I met him through my drumming hobby. John is a pro studio drummer and I wanted some lessons. He offered to help me and that relationship turned into something more: something that seemed like a friendship with casual meet-ups and intimate discussions.
But looking back over the years, I realized I initiated all the calls and our four or five non-drumming get togethers. John called me when he was performing and I supported him in that way. And when we talked over the phone, and I suggested face time at some coffee shop, John always promised to get back to me on that. He never did. It was me who pressed it.
That sort of hurt. I really liked John. I wanted a brother-type connection, something I had never had growing up. Once John actually told me he “loved” me, in a Bible-reading, praying-every-night, close-to-the-Lord kind of way.
But I never “saw” the “love.” Well, actually I did; in the few times we were together. But that was rare. And so I decided to never call him again, for the second time.
A year passed. Out of the blue, I got a call from John. He was now engaged and he wanted to introduce his fiancé to my wife and me. So he coaxed me into an invitation in my home, not his.
Okay. Fine. And over drinks and food John offered to reciprocate the dinner with one at his house. Never happened.
Half a year later he called me again for idle conversation while he waited for his fight to take off at some airport. And he told me that when he returned, we would rendezvous at a restaurant in the valley.
Did this happen? Again I wrote him off.
Then last month, John’s fiancé called to invite me to her future husband’s 50th birthday party. I immediately called John asking if we could meet before that. As a guest at his big party, I knew I’d have little chance to talk to him. John said, sure, he’d get back to me.
And then Aunt Elly died. I wrote John a long letter telling him our “friendship” was nothing of the sort and that I would not act as a “prop” at his tribute day party.
I thoroughly burned that bridge, telling him never to write or call me again. I was hurt. I felt like I had been taken for granted, like a Christmas toy displayed only at holidays.
I was chasing a friendship that didn’t really exist. So I called him on it. And yeah, I’ll admit it here. There was revenge involved.
Was that being small? Was I overly sensitive? Should I have taken the “higher moral ground” and gone to his party, and given him a present, and pretended everything was fine?
I ask because I’m not feeling any better after my declaration of independence. And I’m not so sure it made a positive difference.
This post was originally published on Curiosity Quills.