Who is the other, after so much time? We receive words of enquiry from across oceans, from across decades, across years, or even beyond remembrance. Some old contacts may ask some or all of those 5 x W's: How are you? What do you do? Who are you seeing? Where do you live? When can I see you again? If you're like me, the initial instinct is to be concise. I'm fine. I teach. I'm married. I live in a paradise of my own making. We may see each other again; when in town meet me at my local. In the meantime, tell me about you. (Shall we share Webs?)
End of transcription? Yet some persons write back great expositions: "I'm now a graduate of Local High, did some European traveling with friends, went to Provincial University, got my Vocation Degree, added (or am doing) My Masters, My PhD, and work now at Satisfactions Occupation, and am currently in Parentis Practice too. We (or I) live in Faraway City. And I (or we) often think of you. So, how are you?”.... And just how much 'should' I in turn reveal? We speak predominantly about things, people, or ideas. The focus?
No matter how full the other's life, my first reaction is to hesitate before divulging. It seems the past is the past. Does it matter that I went to Wonderland, unless they've been too? Does it matter that I met this or that person, unless they know them? Does it signify that I've attained this or that credential, unless they can relate to my semantics and are commensurate with my interests? After all, there is a great deal of head scratching to be wrought twixt epistemology and homeostasis. Should either of us not be on the same page we may devolve tangentially into circumlocution of the essence of who we really are, a symbiosis of all that was and is. Twixt religion and spirituality is a vast argument. Who’s read, “So long, and thank you for all the fish!"?
Thing is, how does one revive a realistic emotion for a long-forgotten cousin? How does one really relate to a past-person who indeed appreciates, indeed has made of their lives a paragon of praiseworthiness, yet who may essentially be at a different space of taste in life? "You like Bob Dylan? Really? I prefer Bizet," the other may say. And soon thereafter, one hears no more. Things have been had. People are past. And ideas?
I recall being so very judgemental when I was younger. I was affected by cleanliness, by dress, by hairstyles, by vocations, by music choices, by the sense of another's friends and their family, by vehicle choices, by whether or not one smoked. And through it all I was looking for (albeit subconsciously) the one thing I myself did not readily feel, unconditional acceptance. Thing is, when younger I did not know my boundaries; I feared being breached. When younger, I feared birds of a different feather. When younger, I felt instinctually non-commensurate with some of 'the others' essentially because I was looking for something I felt they could not give me, an interest in ME. My interest in 'them' was curtailed to my sense of their intensity of reciprocity. It took energy to love, let alone to like the other when there was no concise sense of camaraderie, little by way of companionship, or hint of collusion. To like another just as they are, exactly as you find them, takes some doing. It takes an integration of all that was and is, and perhaps even more scary, it takes integrating 'the perhaps' of what is yet to be. Corinthians 13 is indeed most challenging.
Boundaries are significant in relationships. They are the differentiators. To have sufficient sense of the self not to be threatened by the other, "whether one is a bird or a fish" (in Fiddler on The Roof terminology) is to be self-actualized not only in a way that allows for care, consideration, and compassion; but also provides for exercising circumspection. It allows for one to evaluate the time and the effort and the energy and the flow of a moment, and when the other knocks too often at one's door for their sustenance that better might be got without dependency, or intrudes too often on time that needs focus on larger issues than that poor soul's churning repetition of childhood insufficiencies, it's time to curtail the correspondence. Or do we drop all barricades?