Life is a funny thing. It's all about balance. And that's a hard thing to teach. You all know my love of reading, I'm sure. Although I'm not sure "love" is the right word-- maybe it's more of an obsession or compulsion. I just need to have something to read all the time. I think that sometimes I take notes at meetings, just so I have something to read (and reread) during said meeting. Anyway, I was recently in the process of moving, and the first night in my "new" place I had forgotten my book in my "old place" in my rush. I was seriously lost without it. (I'm sure this was only intensified by the fact that I was almost finished with the book. Seriously . I had about 5 pages left. I'm also obsessed with finishing things.) Almost tempted to go back and get my book, I decided instead to read one of the many other books on my "to read" list. The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch (and Jeffrey Zaslow). I'd heard good things about this book, so I bought it one day, but never ended up reading it. I'm only on page 36, but I already love it. I've had many deep thoughts and personal revelations as a result of it.
Based on a lecture he gave titled, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" Pausch stresses the importance of living. And he could base that on actual experience because he was facing death as he wrote it. Pausch was living out the last few months he had as cancer invaded his body. His young family was only beginning, and he longed to be the influential father for his children that were most likely too young to remember him. So he wrote it all out. I have a fantastic family, I do. I know I have been hugely blessed in that area. And many of his lessons I'm sure I've already learned, but it's always nice to be reminded.
The one I have in mind now, is one he learned from college football. With a coach who was extremely hard on him, he was often exhausted after practice. One such day the assistant coach mentioned that it was a good thing. "When you're screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they've given up on you." The book goes on to say:
"When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody's bothering to tell you anymore, that's a bad place to be. You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you they still love you and care about you, and want to make you better.
"There's a lot of talk these days about giving children self esteem. It's not something you can give; it's something they have to build."
My head is in that thought but from several different directions. On the one hand, I wonder why I don't have more people telling me when I've screwed up, because I do it often. But then I remember that I love a lot of people, and I rarely "correct" them. But then, I don't think they screw up. I think that as a society, we have lost the ability to lovingly guide people to the correct route. I went to a very basic salsa class, and I ended up teaching people how to salsa. I used to feel like a jerk, and I often hate it when people tell me I'm doing steps wrong, but I try to remember that they are trying to teach me, in the same way I am trying to teach people when I tap their elbow to remind their descending hand that it's home is on my shoulder blade. It is all in how you say it. I try to remember to be nice and remind people that it is easier for me to follow where they lead if they are leading correctly. I try to remember that when people tell me I'm stepping with the wrong step, it's because when a spin comes a few steps down the line it will be easier for me to be on the correct foot.
Another thought I have is how you can't change people. People will only change when they want to. When they are able to see the error in their actions, and recognize that change must occur to achieve a different, more desirable result. As is often said in failing relationships, you can't change him/her. However, if they are willing to make the effort to change, we can help others find their way. Maybe the reason people no longer correct me is because I've stopped listening. You can talk until you are blue in the face, but it's all in vain if there are no ears open to hearing your words. I've learned that. And it's a hard thing to be on the unreceived side.
Those two thoughts led me to my third: Where is the balance? How do you tell people lovingly how they can improve when they are not ready to improve? It's a horrible place to be, because you obviously care for someone enough to want the best for them, but nothing you say seems to be heard, so what do you do? In a friendship, how far does your responsibility to express your loving concern for someone go? Out of love for them, we often have to overlook some faults in others, but when those "faults" start hurting you do you let them continue? In loving people, you want the best for them, and you would never stand by and let someone else hurting your friend, so why would you just watch them do something that you believe is hurting themselves? But then when they won't listen to you are you a cruel and heartless person to just walk away and save yourself pain?
I was in that horrible position. A really good friend of mine, someone I love more than chocolate made some choices I didn't agree with. And while I want to support that person's right to make their own choices, I also hated watching it. My friend tried very hard to explain a different view and justify that road. I tried my hardest to explain my view and encourage a different path. But when we couldn't agree, I stopped trying. Knowing I didn't appreciate it, my friend stopped including me in those life areas.
So here's the question: To what degree should I be like that coach who yelled and corrected and punished and motivated? When do I let people make their own choices? Because it hurt so bad watching and being excluded while a facade went up between us both that it just got too hard. I stepped back. And it still breaks my heart to think about my own loss of a friend, but would that even be considered a friendship at this point? Am I selfish to quit? Am I giving up too easily? I never wanted to give up. I said I'd always be there....does it count as being there if I wait for my friend to come to me? And what if I'm not accessible when I'm needed-- Does that make me a bad person? Is it then my fault that someone reached out for my help and I wasn't there to give it? I think that's my worst fear...
This post went off in an entirely different direction than it had started. I'm sorry for that. I wonder if I'll even post it for the world to read...It's just something I think about sometimes, because I want to be a good person, but I also want to be happy. That's why we are alive: To live. This is kinda a bleh post, so you should know that I am not all depressed or anything. I know that I have a great life, and while I'm far from who I hope to be, I'm enjoying the process of getting there, and I do feel like it's a journey I'm moving forward on. My happiness in life right now comes first from my family. And second from dancing. I know that second one sounds lame to so many of you, but I really love it. It came to me at a point in my life when I needed something and it filled a void I was only just finding. I'm a bad friend, and I know that. It's a two way street, so it's not all my fault, but I really am trying to be better. Just keep on growing, right?