Sunday, November 01, 2009

Fallen by the wayside

I've been neglecting this space. I receive and process all of my information now in Facebook- or Twitter-sized snippets. I have lots of thoughts about important things, but other people get to them first, so I fear that what I would say in this space would now sound old and trivial compared to their well-thought-out postings. The growing season is nearly over, and my one pepper and one pea was all I harvested, and I have no other projects aside from trying to figure out what I want to do professionally and then finding a way to do it in Colorado. So all I can think to post in this space starts with I, I, I, and nobody really wants to read that.

But I'll atempt a thoughtful post anyway, because lately I've been thinking about relationships and egos and judging other people. A few years ago, lost in the trauma of some mid-twenties turmoil, I judged some close friends and pushed them away. I decided that my own turmoil was enough to bear and didn't want to maturely address my beef with them. One friend managed to put up with me anyway and we patched things up, and now our friendship is as great as it ever was. Another friend accepted my rudeness and let me pull away, and so we lost many years together. We recently patched things up too, or at least started to, but now we have a gaping hole of years to fill back in. As I'm rounding the corner toward 30, I'm finally able to understand where I was, let go of the ego, and get back the things that meant so much to me for so many years.

People do this all the time. They get in fights with friends, push them away, seek them out to reconnect. It's all a funny dance. We think it's okay to push friends away because we have no legal ties to them. Our relationships are fungible, disposable. But these friends I blew off are like family to me. They are my sisters, if not by blood, then by soul. Kicking them out of my life for good is just not an option. We met in college and bonded during some of our most formative years. We started our journeys together at the beginning of our adult lives. You can't just throw that away.

If that's the case with people we've known for less than half our lives, what then of the people we've known our whole lives? Of people to whom we are biologically connected? We may not like these people at times. We may disagree with their world views, we may feel we have little in common with them, we may not understand their actions. But they are family. We are obligated to care for each other, to look out for each other, even when we can't stand each other. We are more than just floating souls, we are clan. We are kin. So what then of some people who choose simply not to care about family members? Or worse, those who choose to hold family members hostage for their prior actions, for their bad choices or their life struggles? How can you choose to simply give up on parents or children, on siblings, on aunts, uncles or cousins, who care for you no matter what, because that's what family does? How can we choose to hold our friends, or our egos, closer to us than we hold our family?

I say this as someone who is part of a family in which we were just four people living in the same house, going four different directions. It's not a judgment, just an observation. I believe that my parents felt the same way about their upbringings, and we were always going different directions from other parts of our extended family as well. We were all always disconnected. But we're family. We share some of the same traits that can be traced back through many generations. We are alike in ways that we didn't develop by spending time together, because we only just started spending time together. Like it or not, we are connected for life and death, and we will pass these connections on to our families for generations after us. So how can we take such trivial matters as such serious slights? Isn't it our duty to just grin and bear it for now, because these things too shall pass?

It makes me sad that my entire extended family isn't close like some families are (or seem to be). Perhaps it's more like, we don't try to stay connected. I'm just starting to get to know my cousins, who are all closer with the other sides of their families, and I feel like we missed out on so much. I learn about the drama in the family of someone near and dear to me, who may likely be my parter in creating a new family some day, and I see how it parallels the current drama in my own family. And I yearn to patch things back together as well as I can, because I can't wrap my brain around the idea that if we don't like what a family member is doing, that we can just push them away and leave them to their own devices. That we're not obligated to try to help them, or at least try to understand them.

So no, neglect is not an option. If we don't like something, if we're not happy with the way something is going, rather than try to find something to replace it, we try to fix it. We have no choice. When you are deeply connected to someone, the labor may be long and difficult, and often expensive, but a cheap new replacement is just not the same.