Friday, November 18, 2005

Navigating Relationships

I answered the phone about suppertime and heard the words “Hey, come over and let’s go play pool”. The caller was a boy about fifteen who lived about one-quarter mile away and had been my best friend for the summer. My cousin was with him and the three of us made plans to go to a pool hall a few miles away. I agreed to meet them and hung up the phone. As I started out the door my mother told me to wait because supper was almost ready but I assured her I would be back in less than 15 minutes and started walking. When I got to the house my “friend” and my cousin were rolling on the floor laughing. We talked for a few moments about nothing in particular and I went home for supper.

This story makes sense if you understand that I was sixteen, could drive and had access to a car. My friend and cousin didn’t want to play pool with me. They needed transportation. They got a laugh out of my action of walking to the house rather than driving. They laughed because they knew that I knew their real intent. I have no memories of my friend after this experience. We graduated from high school and took different paths in life. About 20 years later I heard that he had been arrested for statutory rape. He died as an alcoholic in his mid-forties.

On that Saturday afternoon I was lucky. Normally, I would have gotten angry and reacted emotionally and verbally at the thought of being used but for some strange reason I handled the situation with a little grace and some finesse. My emotional reaction and thought processes remain a mystery. I reacted instinctually and the friendship ended peacefully, happily, perfectly.

Friendships come and go. Relationships change and become stronger or weaker, better or worse. Life is never static. For me, the art of life is to navigate relationships without harming or being harmed. Due to some mysterious unseen guide or sheer luck, I’ve realized that relationship navigation is an art that can be learned. I’m still working to develop the art. Unattainable perfection is a long way off but that’s not important. I’ll settle for slow progress and small improvements.

4 Comments:

Blogger Gaye said...

Relationship navigation (clever name for it)- I can do this!! Unfortunately most people are only interested in beginnings and endings and don't occupy their minds with the "process" of a beginning or ending.
We live in a "throw away" society and people throwing each other away is no exception. I, like you, prefer pleasant, intelligent phasing out that leaves a good taste in the mouth and fond memories for later.
To me, people that have come and gone in my life are like treasures that I tenderly keep safe inside my treasure chest. Every now and then I like to open it up and remember...

11/18/2005 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Bonita said...

I like your phrase 'navigating relationships'. As we age it seems a lot easier to explore even the untidy characters, just to witness the turns in their lives, the differences in lifestyle. I'm amazed at all the unusual friends I have - none of them are like me, and thats what I like. Just a lot of pleasant nuiances to share.

11/18/2005 09:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Booley said...

As I read your post today, I thought of the words "action" and "reaction" - two words similar in sound but vastly different in meaning. Sadly, much of relationship navigation centers around reaction. Your quiet story of action speaks volumes of the power we have when we choose to act. So much less drama, but so much more result. Bravo, my beloved.

11/18/2005 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

Well said!

Thanks for a much needed reminder about the nature of relationships.

11/19/2005 12:22:00 PM  

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