I grew up on books and media that perpetuated the idea that a person came with many layers; layers that you unravel slowly, gently, assiduously, and then, maybe, over time, when you’re worthy, and win their hearts and soul, they reveal their innermost, most vulnerable, and most intimate selves to you. And I believed in that notion like religion. So I believed when people told me this new neighbor was tough as a nail but gooey mush inside. And I’m not going to lie, I have heard a few people say that about me too. But this evening, as I was listening to Radiohead with some weirdly unrelated documentary in the background, I had a realization. And I got to typing my thoughts again.
You don’t strip a person naked; you don’t unravel them, and there are probably no shells to break, no layers to peel, no yarn to be undone, and no codes to crack. People are seeds when you meet them, and they grow around you. People are probably the greatest receptors. They absorb your gaze, they read your lips, and they watch your fingers as they move. They are taking everything in, and subconsciously you are too.
People are probably the most vulnerable when they make that first eye contact with you. It’s a conscious decision to let you in from there on, and it starts with a blank slate. I want you to think of that first moment when you met someone important in your life – maybe a friend or a foe. You had no idea, did you? That first conversation, that first eye contact, the first spark that becomes the fuel for the rest of your relationship, whether you are friends, lovers, neighbors, or work buddies. It always starts raw. You have already seen them naked, and then everything you say and do together starts sprouting this mesh that engulfs you both, and you ride it out. The more you engage, the more it grows, and like anything else, it can grow into a beautiful flower, or a weed you would rather pluck out of your lives. But, you always grow with each interaction- both as an individual and together. You create this complex, inexplicable, metaphysical, almost magical entity between you, which is almost as alive as the both of you. That’s why no two friendships are alike, and no two relationships will ever be the same. This essence you have both created is unique to every interaction you will have. And I probably cannot begin to fathom the gravity of this, but you might question, well then, if every interaction with a person creates something brand new, why don’t we remember every person we meet? And I would dare to say, just like some scents are forgettable, and just like some days roll into another, some interactions simply do not stand out. Is that a reflection of that person? No. What doesn’t tickle your soul maybe someone else’s lifeline. You might question, well, by that theory, are you saying it’s my fault when a person mistreats me? Is it because of a signal I gave that this song that we created just doesn’t let me sleep at night? And the answer is no. People come in all shapes and sizes, and yes people lie, cheat, and sadly take advantage of each other. Does a cheater cheat everyone? Maybe not. Does a murderer murder everybody? I hope not. So, is it your fault they cheated on you? No. It’s just a reflection of their energy, not yours. Sometimes, there’s no excuse for things. And that’s what makes people so complex- we spend lifetimes figuring them out. Doesn’t my theory then meet its immediate pitfall? I’d dare to say no. No theory can explain everything (Sorry Hawking!), and mine has exceptions too. And maybe, when I grow older and wiser, I will have another epiphany again, but for now, this will do.
Humans, in general, are also good at pattern recognition, so sometimes, when you begin building this castle with this new person, it reminds you of another castle you built years ago, and how lonely you felt inside it. So you do not want to see this castle through completion, and that’s fine. It may be your instincts coming in to your rescue, your intellect ringing alarm bells, or just the fear of that reeking trauma again. And that’s okay too. The alarms may just be your gut reminding you that you’re not ready yet and need to heal a little more to go down that path. Listen to your gut, it rarely lies.
And then you may question, well then, shouldn’t someone challenge themselves or dare? And there is no right answer to that. At the end of the day, every experience you build should make you happy. Your definition of adrenaline or dopamine may be someone else’s Prozac. And now I see you rolling your eyes and going, “Well, those are chemicals; they have the same effect on people!” Maybe they do, but at the end of the day they react with the chemistry of your body, and just like Feve Delicieuse smells almost irresistible on one of my gal pals, and absolutely sickening on me, it’s not the same. It’s also why I’m not writing a medical journal, but seeking the familiar comfort of words and literature to work through my thoughts.
If you think about it, navigating life is just navigating through people and their complex thoughts. You are probably not the missing piece to someone’s puzzle, but I can assure you, you’re going to have a heck of fun solving some zig saws with some and will feel like playing escape room with some others. There, I said everything if it gave you food for thought and maybe nothing if it left you confused. But, I’m really hoping this leaves a contended smile on a few faces thinking about these castles, songs, bouquets, and tapestries you have built with these very important people in your life, and that you cherish your growth a little more today.