Thoughts on relationships

Although my website is a mix of technical posts and reflections on life, I really don’t spend that much time thinking about the past. When I do think about prior experiences, I find myself motivated to preserve a thought or two in my public journal. I’m currently not sure why I want to expose my inner thoughts, but this is another one of those posts apparently.

People come and go in our lives. Perhaps not too different than rain puddles. Some interactions are very transient like playground puddles that dry in a few hours - such as the person sitting next to you on the subway. Others are a bit more durable and meaningful like reservoirs maintained by annual rain - not too different from the family you have always known. In this metaphor, contact time is represented as rainfall and the meaningfulness of the contact is approximated by the volume collected. Without periodic rainfall, the puddle, pond, or reservoir shrinks with evaporation. The body of water can also shrink if there is frequent contact but lack of meaningful interaction.

New relationships can be exciting because the future is quite opaque and only later do you find which people are truly impactful for your career or personal life. In this framing, it seems quite important to grow relationships by interacting with others - probably related to why extroverts tend appear as being successful. I find that I am more introverted, however. I’ll help some puddles grow a bit and test the water. I don’t maintain many puddles, but the few that I do remain relatively important to me.

Some ponds and reservoirs are no longer maintained in my life and I look back at them with some bittersweet memories regardless of whether or not they were childhood, high school, university, or life thereafter. There have been quite a few good people in my life who have provided me with both pleasant and unpleasant memories. I wish I had a way of going back in time and thanking them for being a part of my life and teaching me important lessons. However, after a long drought, the only thing that preserves the history of the water is a photograph of what used to be. It does sadden me a bit to relive the past and know that those people in those moments will not be a part of my future. Our laughs and joys of the past reverberate in an empty chamber.

Some bodies of water succumbed to drought due to situational events like leaving university. I find those losses more bearable than those that I decided to intentionally drain. Regardless if the rain fell for 7 years or 6 months, draining a body of water leaves feelings of internal conflict.

Here is the Boy Scout Oath:

On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

And here is the Boy Scout Law:

A Scout is:

and Reverent.

Much of my upbringing was focused on being kind to others and loyalty. By saying that a body of water isn’t at the right place or time in my life, I have selfish desires or needs that contend with my values for how I should treat others. Situational droughts are convenient because I can choose to defer responsibility and ignore my selfishness. Intentional draining lacks this luxury. I do wish that the bodies drained could have remained as a part of my life in a smaller role, but that is similarly selfish in that the course of action would be ignorant to the wants and needs of the other party. However, I have never carelessly drained a body of water and the acts have been a result of meeting my needs or enforcing my boundaries. While wants can be sacrificed, every human has different requirements and it is their responsibility to do what they need to do even if it is difficult. Not respecting your own needs and boundaries, results in a life of conflict and suppression.

While one aspect of bittersweet memories is that those in the past aren’t maintained in the future, it is also bittersweet that those in the future aren’t able to relive parts of the past with you. As new puddles form, they have no understanding of the geographic and meteorologic history in your life. You see that they’re a new puddle that slightly overlaps with where prior puddles once grew. You want to share stories of all the past puddles from family, childhood, high school, and everything else. None of that really matters though - what matters is that it is currently raining, the puddle is growing bigger, and you don’t allow the puddle to spill over important boundaries.

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