Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category

Wise Friend,

Nature was mad today. It poured with fury. It will continue during the night and tomorrow.

Sensitive Friend,

Oh boy! Take care!

I was in Philadelphia during the Floyd hurricane, decades ago, attending a conference. The friends with whom I stayed begged me to come home by lunchtime before the water would have covered the train tracks.

At 10:00 am the conference people announced that the airport was closed.  After the sessions finished, 12,000 people had to stay there. It would have been an excellent opportunity for business.

While feeling guilty, I left hoping to catch a train. It worried me I would end up in a stormy city with no place to sleep and no way to get back home. As I entered the train station, I heard the announcement my route was suspended. I rushed out, and luckily I caught a cab. The driver told me the road I wanted him to use was not accessible. He took a long trip around. I couldn’t care less, I was in a dry cab and sure I’ll get back home.

When I arrived at my friends’ house, we went in the storm to look at the river. The river covered the streets, and we could see only the top of the traffic lights, popping out of the water.

A nearby, usually fickle, waterfall became a torrent. The water was hitting the bridge with all its might.

Suddenly, Floyd retreated, the night descended, and the stars showed up.

Next days were so sunny I had this feeling that this time the sun was angry.

Wise Friend,

Philadelphia has many nice spots, some beautiful, and a nice mixture of old architecture and small buildings.
A famous person once said, “I went last week to Philadelphia, and it was closed”.

Sensitive Friend,

Hmmm! Maybe!! However, I trust my friend and his passionate love for the city. They have a marvellous Rodin museum.

Wise Friend,

This time, let’s make no sense. Let’s throw thoughts to each other. Unrelated, maybe even illogical.

Sensitive Friend,

You start! Perhaps I can fall in line.

Wise Friend,

Here it is: What word would describe a state of mind when you have questions and thoughts about some events, and they are not real questions–like interrogatively or judgemental, and not worries either? They are on your mind.

Sensitive Friend

Ohhh! I don’t know.
Let me try as well, the throwing part: I’m not even sure if life is unfair, though it is a mystery.

Wise Friend,

I feel as we are already in full winter while people around me tell me they enjoy the Indian summer. I delight in the crispy air mornings and evenings and ask around how much crispier they will get. I get these mysterious smiling answers. They assure me it will get much crispier.

Sensitive Friend,

Driving now is a joy. The trees are in any shade of yellow, green, red-purple you can imagine. Not only the trees but the bushes, too. It is so strange. While still light with the sun practically gone, I go out of the building, and I feel as if the sun is shining, because of the colours of the leaves. Even when raining, I have the same sensations.

Wise Friend,

I’m so unwilling to miss any tree changing its colours, and I have to be extremely careful when I drive, as I look even inside the gardens I pass not to lose any autumn effect.

I imagine having a camera all around the car and being able to push a button on the steering wheel.

Sensitive Friend,

When visiting my aunt, I joined a community event. This was my second time there. The first time, everybody ignored me. This second time, women asked me questions, and one woman invited me to visit her next day and to see their private beach.

The wind was fierce, not beach weather. However, as I’m always willing to meet new people, I went. She wasn’t at home yet, and the husband took me to the private beach, with extensive dunes at the back, a hidden path along the dunes, where the privileged of the area, walk and greet each other like in a secret ploy. Everything is manicured, beautiful, rich, wild, and strange at the same time.

He told me they had adopted a child from Turkey. As we walked, we met a couple that wanted to adopt a child from one of the Eastern Europe countries. I admire people who adopt. They hugged me, just for saying that.

We walked back to their home–a huge house, in dire conditions. It had a beautiful Mediterranean architecture, but it needed, repairs and paint, I thought. We remained in the patio all the time. Just before my departure, she took me inside to take a peek inside. It was magnificent, like a Mediterranean castle with incredible woodwork, so unexpected for a house by an American shore. I noticed big holes in the walls, and it became even more evident the house needed serious repairs.

I had a great time with the lady of the house. In her thirties, in search of a God, she became religious well before her marriage. She grew up in a Catholic family, and something didn’t work in the spiritual department. This woman had studied Greek,  Latin, and was extremely well-read; I call that cultured. Her father had been an architecture professor (she whispered “emeritus”) at Princeton.

Something in the way she talked was so friendly, so subtle and so strange, so light, and so serious.

Wise Friend,

Will go back? Didn’t your aunt show those places before?

Sensitive Friend,

I would like to meet them again.

I went back to my aunt, asked her to get in the car and took her, 5 minutes away from her place, to show her the dunes, the private beaches, the ‘path of adoption’. At the time, my aunt had been living nearby for at least 15 years. She never knew about the place. She was so excited and looking forward to showing those places to her 80-year-old three other girlfriends.

I told her a story about a transient friend in California, Joy. It amazed Joy of how quickly I found outlier places despite a busy life. She used to joke “As you’ve been in Los Angeles for more than two weeks, could you give me directions to …?”

Wise Friend.

I have a highly educated friend working in garden maintenance. He asked me to join him for two weeks. I wanted to do some physical work and accepted.  We joke with quizzing customers about both us having masters, being avid readers, and somehow having become blue-collar workers.

Wow Friend,

How do you cope with the physical work?

Wise Friend,

Gosh! It is hot and hard! At the end of each day I’m tired and euphoric, intoxicated with feeling great. I love being outside, and I love hard physical work.

Wow Friend,

Shall I envy you?

Wise Friend,

Yes, please do!

We chitchat a lot. My friend mentioned that one little conversation back at home becomes an obsession for a man if he works alone and nobody distracts him. This is the risk of men doing manual work by themselves.

I attended my book club today. Mainly women. I repeated to them what he told me. You should have heard them! This is what they said:

“Women are extremely well at making an elephant out of a fly inside their heads.”

“They speak with girlfriends, and they expect full support for the ‘seriousness’ of the issue. If the friend tries to shake them up, to check their priorities, the anger would be endless.”

“She goes back home and lashes out emotionally.”

“It’s a myth that women don’t obsess.”

I was speechless. Did you know that? How clueless am I?

Wow Friend,

Somehow, yes. What’s happenning in your home?

Wise Friend,

We are human. Sometimes, we lash at the other. You don’t want to witness that. Thanks God we love each other!

Wise Friend,

When you have the time, and if I’m not indiscreet, please write about lunches to which people invite you.

Sensitive Friend,

I read your request to write about my lunches a few times. It surprised me.
Most of them are acceptable social encounters.
A fascinating and energetic guy from Boston University was at the first lunch.
Once a month he leads scholastic meetings about the social and historical events that took place close the transition to the previous millennium (sects, apocalyptic groups, and so on).

Today I’ll be there for my second time. The first time, I thought it was superficial. I learnt how such tiny groups within universities influence government “policy directly”. This is how they get approved ‘grants’. In reality, the world changes with the superficial thoughts of those who at least invest in these little discussions in contrast to those who do nothing.

Besides, that lunch, I joined another lunch more interesting and emotional. However, so much water passed under the bridge and I can’t return my thoughts to it.

Would mind letting me know what interests you?

Last week, I started asking people about their own stories. I promise to remember them and write them down. Why? I’m not so sure. I don’t write them down, and I forget them.

Wise Friend,

If it took you by surprise why did you respond with a description of such lunches? Shall I omit such questions in the future?

Let me be more explicit, about my request which surprised you. I’ve asked you because merely put (and in general) I like how you describe situations and people through a unique filter; comments about the every day. Did you suspect me of something else?

Sensitive Friend,

Your request surprised me as I remembered your reaction when I had described a lunch in the past. It had been somehow condescending.

It is not a taboo subject. I suspected nothing.

The second lunch I mentioned was unusual, and I wrote about it to two friends of mine, a long time ago.
In the future, I’ll write about lunches (I’ll censor where I need to).

Wise Friend,

Yes, Bravo!. Your reaction means you thought as I did. Meaning beyond the surface drollery, it loses itself in banality when worded effectively.

Wise Friend,

I’m taking now the opportunity to tell you something I noticed about you.

Sensitive Friend,

Is that necessary? Would it help?

Wise Friend,

I hope that you won’t take what I have to say the wrong way. I want to refer to what you call your “audience”. I don’t think who is in your audience is by chance. On the contrary, it reflects a specific state of mind of yours, and the desire to have a “public” in front of which you can “act” in such a way they would end up appreciating you. Maybe you read too many books about “how to make a good impression, “what is the key to success?”, and other recipes that fill the American bookshelves (they belong to the sphere of “behaviourist” influence). Are you now somehow disappointed in the results?

Sensitive Friend,

Really? I’m sure you’ll continue clarifying this strange unsolicited feedback. Am I supposed to not want to make a good impression? Do I need books to teach me to desire otherwise? Are you socialising with the intent to be disliked? I wonder why you bring up these self-help books. I mentioned before I call them “vapourware”. I never mentioned having read them. Do you know what they say? Do you read them, even when despising them?  Like everybody else, I’ve read some of them as they represent current thoughts and life philosophy of the public. They don’t guide or shape me.

Wise Friend,

I don’t believe what these books advise, I’m sure of myself. Such ideas don’t affect me, and they don’t stick unto me. Therefore, I lose in life frequently, or I don’t get what I want, and I’m satisfied when I tell myself: “you all might believe you succeed in making me believe you’re are right, when in fact you’re not, but I know what I know..” I swear at them in my mind, and I mind my way.

Don’t tell me it’s more difficult for you. Is your “public” sometimes dubious? Ignore them, it’s not worthwhile. Be yourself, express yourself as you are and you’ll find a “public” to see you and see your qualities. I know, it’s easy to talk. I miss the direct dialogue to clarify nuances and details.

Though this the essence of what I wanted to share. I think you need to relax the self-control, to look more inside (narcissism?). Hey, I would have so much more to say.

Sensitive Friend,

You sound exactly like those books.
I’m not sure if you sense when I mention new friendships I don’t mean superficial friendships, even if there are times and places when the latter is acceptable as well.

Apart from friendships, I firmly believe there is nothing more important than a warm, kind and loving family.  I dream sweetly, about a year (too much to ask) when I could stay at home each night, mend whatever at home, having a loving person around me, sitting on a couch, back to back, reading quietly, and showing each other some paragraph one of use might like. It hasn’t been yet possible. Life decided differently, and we spend too few evenings together. Not asking too much! Am I?

Nothing is so incredibly wrong with me. Occasionally, a soul asks me what is wrong with me.  Once in a while a soul tells me that my problem is I’m too smart, other soul tells me I’m too lucid (sic!), another one would say to me that when I don’t smile my features are sad or angry, that I overthink, that I don’t drink wine, that…and it goes on and on.
What can I do? I smile and believe in my star. Oops! Do those books say the same?

Wise Friend,

On another occasion (oh! totally and entirely on another occasion), I’ll clarify.
I have nothing to add, either you or I covered all the facts. I’m thinking with an inefficient warmth of you. Believe in your star. Nothing is wrong with you. What made you come up with such nonsense?

Sensitive Friend,

You!

Wise Friend,

Re hiatus. What’s new?

Sensitive Friend,

I went to visit my family. Days before that, I spent (wasted?) time on buying presents. I had zero time for my thoughts.
While my soul finds satisfaction, I neglect the side of it which wants to write.

I went to an evening talk about a book. I didn’t read it. However, by now, I’m such a specialist in mediocrity (I can’t call this guru, can I?) that I decided to go to talks about books, even when I hadn’t read the book beforehand because of lack of time.

This way I learn maybe a little and hope to retain what I hear. Yes, I feel slightly frustrated, as everybody else had read the book, and therefore they can comment or ask questions, while I stay silent and try to be invisible – I found both difficult.

Today, I went on a tour, “Boston on foot”. What a beautiful city! I thought a lot about how I spent my time. If I imagine I’m a tourist who needs to work in the cities to visit, then I feel suddenly that I experience luxury and I live in luxury. Talk about glass half full.

In reality, right now, I don’t know what to do with myself and on what to focus. Therefore, I read whatever I seem to choose first. I’ve started dance lessons – swing and samba–which balances the fact that lately, I’ve read about theological concepts.

From time to time, I think about studying for MBA which brings up a slight sense of nausea, as it’s so far from what my soul needs, though it would be wise.

I feel I need to learn about the stock market, which also brings up the mix between nausea and wisdom.

Rarely, I buy a lotto ticket. Maybe reading about theology, being overall a nice person, and actually buying the lotto ticket would bring forth the propitious energy for an instant win, though unbelievable. Then, I won’t need an MBA or knowledge about the stock market.

I had a beautiful day. I brought with me the LA weather for a few days, and I wander around aimlessly, though absorbing.

Wise Friend.

A week has passed since your last email. I didn’t answer immeditaly. It happened before though for different reasons. I’ve registered your current preoccupations: your flight to see your family, samba, theology, the “Boston on foot”, the pseudo-cultural settings and a lot, a lot of thoughts I assume given mainly your tone of sarcasm, self-irony and a pensive sadness transpiring between the lines. I’m not allowing myself to fall again into mt cheap two-cents considerations, though I can’t abstain not remarking “the life is hard, and not only life is hard”.

The glass is half full due to your somehow quasi-absolute freedom (we should avoid using absolute terms..) to do what you want, subject to your limits to the understanding of a “nice girl” that you seem to attach to yourself. Certainly, you are much more than just that, and probably this is it.

Let me walk you through some cultural events I attended.

We attended a movie festival with movies from the country where we both grew up. One of them was remarkable, let‘s call it royal. Two actors, originally from there though now living here, were fantastic. The audience knew each line, and everybody recited as the movie went on. It was mad, beautifully mad.

I attended an evening with Symphony number 2 of Mahler “Resurrection”. I’m an old person. This was the first time in my life I heard it in a concert hall (how else?) What a revelation. A MONUMENT!

Add to this a lot, a lot of work.

Sensitive Friend,

(Glasses, glasses, to drink and be drunk with water)

Right now I can’t call my life hard. I prefer to do what I do, as I do, as I prefer the glass half full to the half empty.

Part of me wanted to let you know I don’t really spend my time entirely to the level of my dreams, though others think what I do is top-top.

We both know it could be better. I’m at peace about adding water from time to time, even if only drops. I imagine it might be a beautiful wine (I don’t drink alcohol) and I take sip by sip. At the half of the glass, I’m drunk.

I envy you for the shows you mentioned and for the opportunity you have to share that pleasure with somebody so close to you.

Recently, I drove for the first time from Boston to NY and back. I was afraid and delighted. I couldn’t believe my elated emotions. Soon, this will become routine. Such I am, I get drunk on my own feelings.

I must go back to samba.

 

 

 

 

 

Wise Friend,

I haven’t written in a while (besides the good wishes around holidays and anniversaries).

The summer is almost over, and the days are much shorter, and perhaps they beckon one towards writing.

I received yesterday your public journal (sic!) and comments about the state of your life. As usual, its literature is of good quality.

Perhaps I told you before I have the impression there is some narcissism here, though I look at it with full, full, full understanding. We all suffer more or less of this syndrome, including the author of these very lines.

In other words, being your own heroine/protagonist, I suspect writing about yourself (to friends!) you look at yourself excessively from outside.

Sensitive Friend,

Narcissism? Interesting.
Ironically, I’m always surprised when somebody likes me. Most probably you don’t know I experienced such surprises (I mean getting compliments) only after I left my family back home.

For some reasons, I grew up hearing a refrain repeated on any occasion. This tiny family enjoyed pointing out my defects only. Among others, “I was born looking like my father (big mistake!), I was ugly, I needed to hide my legs (not perfectly shaped), my chest was too small, my bottom too low, I don’t know how to behave, I’ve been prone to gaffes, I never had a sense of humour, and overall too few people would like me.”

Since then, it seems, I’ve been in a continuous process of validation and evaluation to what extent these labels have been real or not.
I’m the only one initiating visits to the family.

I view being in touch with my small family as significant, and the sound and happy qualities of this family overwhelm such nonsense.
During these many years, they uttered only two compliments, one by mistake, followed by an immediate retraction. The former was back in the country of origin, and the other one was in a letter. It must have been a mistake as well.
Admittedly, I’ve been fighting this image. However, perhaps, I developed an odd model of reference.

Yes, you’re correct I watch myself from the outside.
Initially, I started writing to a group of friends, who usually like my news. They call me frequently and ask me how various people, in this country, welcome me. Therefore, I use such language. Meanwhile, other people entered my life, asked me to include them in the email list, and I adjusted my writing.
My life is not only about successes. Many of the failures are related to my personality. I don’t write about them, not wishing to focus on them.
Somehow, it is little of me in these emails, in which there is already too much.

Wise Friend,

This time, you were 100% you: without public, without literature. How beautiful you write: “it is little of me in these emails, in which it is already too much.”
You have no difficulty in understanding me. I’m the one with a confused way of explaining, maybe precisely because I weigh my words too much (out of fear!). Sometimes, I play with words, though not today.
You’ve told me at other times about your “inferiority complexes”. Those descriptions might be correct, though even you notice how foolish it was to become their slave.
You are the way you are. Features you describe them as “defects”, and which you list with the disregard they deserve, lack any significance to be even considered seriously. Let’s be serious! Your value and quality are not defined by what you see, but by what those receptive to you detect.

Sensitive Friend,

It would shock you that I believe I can be 100% myself when I acknowledge good and even beautiful features of mine, and it’s healthy that I see them, without narcissism. I don’t let such things go to my head, though.

Others, including you, would feel uncomfortable with me or anybody else doing that. Bringing up “inferiority complexes” and self-doubts seems to be perceived as authenticity, relaxes them. It‘s a dance people crave.

Yes, I’m my “own heroine/protagonist” in emails about myself. To what extent shall I limit that?

Sensitive Friend,

You brought up the story about the most efficient way to fill up a jar with a variety of stones, sand and water and to fit in in as many stones as possible.

As in life, the personal relationship must take precedence.

Wise Friend,

Aren’t you too judgemental by using the word “must?”

Sensitive Friend,

Yes, I am. I’m not running away from being discerning or from “must” and “should”.

May  I go back to the jar analogy?

Wise Friend,

Yep, please.

Sensitive Friend,

One has only one life-as if having only one jar. The number of stones one might be able to store is limited.

My son, still young, doesn’t believe in limits–he thinks resources are either wrongly used or limited temporarily. His response would be, I assume, that if you focus on the large stones and store them carefully, then the jar would get larger for even bigger stones.

Wise Friend,

Maybe he means a pie, not a jar.

Sensitive Friend,

Ha!

My son also meant if you neglect the large stones, you will end up with small ones, sand and water. Why? Because you lost the opportunity to store the large stones in the beginning.

The same with life. Focusing, however, only on the most critical aspects of life might not make your life full. For that, you need to include the small things in life as well – small stones, sand and water.

Moreover, paying attention to most significant events in life (family, people, relationships) would not necessarily ensure full satisfaction. However, one would have more advantages and benefits in life.

Sometimes, if you chose your previous priorities wrongly, you might be able to change directions and repair part of your life. Meanwhile, a lot was wasted. We have to admit, accept and adjust.

There is a limit to analogies when you go down to every detail.

Wise Friend,

I know, I’m a real bore!

Sensitive Friend,

Don’t worry about becoming a “bore or impertinent”. Most of the times, when I receive your emails, I laugh, and that is good for me.

Wise Friend,

I believe I don’t have to convince you that you are quite a political person though sometimes you tend to be manipulative. I tell you this as a friend. Be more careful as you could hurt sensibilities.

Use your innate qualities. You have plenty of those, thank God.

Sensitive Friend,

Now I’ve stepped a boundary with you. What are you talking about?

Politics? Manipulative? Excuse me!

Wise Friend,

These are the words I labelled as “politics”: “Most of the time, when I receive something from you, I laugh, and this is good for me.”

In such situations, using this “method”, you go straight to the target. Let’s assume we are clear after adequate explanations, though I don’t believe you didn’t notice the context. However, I know you wrote this way not because of bad intentions but because for self-preservation.

Immediately, I thought this is how Miss Manners would have advised you (unless I’m screwed up). This is the reason for the bitter taste I mentioned.

With this, Basta!

Please don’t confuse “politics” with “tact” and “common sense”.

When you feel like, you might be chattier. When I respond, you might laugh, as you usually do.

Sensitive Friend,

By “target”, I assume you meant those “painful buttons” unique to each one of us, didn’t you?

You were wrong, wrong, wrong!!!! Both of us will be forever ‘wrong’.

As I told you before, you think I know exactly what is going inside your head and read between the lines.

The only thing I do out of self-preservation is to not read between the lines but to ask for explanations when double entendre is used. Yes, some charm gets lost.

When I start feeling comfortable with people I often meet (“locals”), the closeness allows us to share intimate stories. I see their facial expressions, hear the nuances in their voices, and read between the lines.

Even then, sooner or later I ‘validate’ my assumptions.  I proceed this way, because, sometimes, one friend would bring up an old conversation, reveal how she understood it, and I am gobsmacked. By then, I expected the friend to know me well enough, and suddenly, I’m the position to see she saw me as a different person, I don’t recognise. Recently, a decades-old friend made a comment about me that amazed me, unpleasantly. She placed some of my feelings on a road I never ever travelled. I wanted to correct her. However, for that, I needed to see her privately, and I had no time. I would not even try via email.

You read my words mot-à-mot. I’ve read our written conversation again, and my comment meant: “I enjoy receiving your messages or commentaries. I laugh because of the pleasure I feel at your sense of humour.” It was the answer to writing you were a bore.” Arrrgh! Our buttons!

Admittedly, it intrigues me you felt hurt and felt a bitter taste. I didn’t understand you well as I refused to read between the lines.

Maybe it is the nature or the result of our banality.

Basta?!!??

Wise Friend,

I have nothing constructive to add now though you might expect that. I received your specific explanations. I thank you with warmth, especially as you had no obligation to do so.

I think that I understand what you tried to say. I’m also for clarifications. I went overboard, I admit.

I learnt something good for anybody: to not imagine one understands everything. This is not the first time I’m the victim of my own scenarios, and it’s not the first time I interpret words this way–“à côté”.

However, I deserve a good mark, as many times, I wrote about my doubts–real ones–about the way you assimilate what I tell, in jest, or not (mainly seriously). You didn’t respond to my doubts, and I took them as it was convenient for me.

It’s good to ask for clarification when you don’t understand something (will I admit that?).

Regarding this specific situation, it would be stupid and offensive not to believe you. Especially, as all is now in order.

Therefore, I ended with “Basta!” Why did you answer with “Basta?!!??”.