TUESDAY, 15 FEBRUARY 2005
1. The process of starting a relationship is a creative one. It is an organic, take-it-as-it-comes process, not a mail order, step-by-step, just-follow-the-dotted-line-for-desired-outcome process.
2. One must, at the beginning of such a process, be prepared to lose the person, however unpleasant that may sound. The reason is simple: if you are not willing to lose someone at the start, you will a) not be yourself, b) appear desperate, and c) force the process; virtually all of which will doom the process to failure anyway.
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Two days ago I thought about how comfortable or relatively more relaxed I usually feel in the company of [my younger sister’s former in-laws], people my parents’ age, whom I have known for a few years but with whom I have no emotional connection.
I realised that it probably has to do with the fact that they have no prior knowledge of me – what they see now, is what they have always seen. My own parents knew me as a new-born, as a seven-year-old boy, a twelve-year-old preteen, a sixteen-year-old teenager, and as a young man of twenty … They know the person I am now is not the person I have always been.
It also occurred to me that my mother has a bigger problem than anyone else in the family with the discrepancy between the earlier version of me and the person I currently am. She is still holding onto a romantic image of me when I was at my most beautiful, so to speak – maybe about twelve years old, clean, open face, quiet, shy, on my knees praying every night before bedtime, the first signs of religious dedication, the idea that I might become a minister one day.
My father, on the other hand, does not have a romantic image of me as a young boy. Although he loved me, he saw me as clumsy and incompetent to overcome even the smallest technological challenge; plus, I had little interest in how a car engine worked. His view of me, now, is actually more positive – that of an intelligent man, someone with an interest in the Greater Questions of Life.
So, on the one hand my mother, who still hopes that I might return somewhat to the romantic image of her “beautiful son”. And on the other hand my father, who readily accepts me as I am now, since it is somewhat of an improvement from my childhood.
Then a thought kicked me in the face late this afternoon: I am also guilty of this romantic idea business. Ten years ago my younger sister appeared to me differently than she does now – she was a rebel, ready to take on the world … and yet vulnerable and fragile. Now, ten years later, she is a mother, a partner in a marriage, and a valuable administrator of my parents’ business. But without really noticing it, I have been slightly disappointed all this time, because “What happened to the rebel?”
Family is not just people who lived together for many years, and who call each other from time to time to hear if everything’s still okay. Family – and in this case I mean parents and siblings – are people you should allow to constantly grow in your own eyes. That is how relationships are kept alive, and real.