It’s a give and take. Or maybe someone might think that it’s more like a push and pull. The Sun and the Moon in a constant struggle. The Chinese got it right with the yin-yang thing, two dolphins chasing each other’s tail for eternity. Never quite catching up to the other, but never giving up either.
Calling relationships a simple give and take really undervalues what each person brings to it. Economists would call it Asymmetric Information, one person usually having different knowledge than the other. Experience, maybe education in a subject, possibly they just saw a news article and felt like sharing their new bit of the world.
My brother stopped playing basketball with me years ago because having a 6 inch height advantage limited his game. I stopped playing tennis with him because I got tired of always losing to him. So as adults, Madden Football on the XBox! We adapted so we could keep a relationship, even one that most days is very strained because we are very different people.
The lawyer involved with helping me execute a series of plans wants to kill me before I get the chance. Years of knowing each other has placed him in a strange position of caring about me as more than a client. It’s a shift from when we were in college and might have gotten into a fist fight if either of us thought there would be no consequences.
And life is about consequences!
I went to him years ago when I needed someone who would protect my ex should something happen to me. Being the one who brought the house and other things into the relationship, I didn’t want her to struggle. That need became intensified when the kid came into the picture. I didn’t like him, but I knew he would be the best thing for them.
After I was left to my own devices, he became more concerned with me. Sometimes you learn more about people by the things they don’t say than by the words they chose to speak. His wife accidentally mentioning a book he got from the library on my cancer was a big wake-up for us both.
For two guys who were never competitive about anything that crossed over, we butted heads far too often. Never had a class together, didn’t chase the same girl, it never made sense! But I have needed to rely on his abilities to help guide me through some of life.
He knows the cancer is terminal. He doesn’t care for my exit strategy. Giving a lawyer a stack of papers and asking them to put a plan in place rarely gets an argument. The client is sometimes right?
After all that was done, we made a few changes in our relationship. When we talk, it’s about his son or some news thing that we both know the other doesn’t care about. I also know it’s because putting down the phone sometimes means silently hoping that a few days later they will answer.
By looking through my daughter’s eyes I saw things I needed to improve. At the same time when I looked through other’s eyes I wondered about everything. Was I right? Were they? Confidence is one thing, but my knowledge that absolute certainty is always a failure keeps me grounded.
During the day, the sun pulls the water in one direction. Much like me trying to do the right thing for the right reasons. Even when they fail, just hoping it works is sometimes enough.
At night when the moon is pulling the other way I’m alone with my thoughts. The inner turmoil that doesn’t see the light bounces in my head like watching one of those tennis matches with my brother. The ball going back and forth, but most times passing right by me. I always reached out but sometimes my arms just weren’t long enough, my feet not quick enough.
I have doubts about how this all ends. Picking a day sometimes means wondering if on the next something different will happen that I will miss. Not a cure, but maybe something? You can’t know that your doing this for the right reasons but can only hope you are.