It isn’t like you’d listen even if someone tried, not when you’re 16 and so certain that there are right answers and wrong answers and you are supremely confident of your ability to differentiate between the two.
Now, at the grand old age of 35, I am slowly giving in to the reality that there are only costs and consequences. Right and wrong are only available in the extremes: hurting things that are less powerful than you, stealing, drive by shootings. Most of our choices don’t fall into those categories. Most of our choices are between decaf and regular, dinner out or dinner in. Those choices aren’t particularly problematic either. I mean really, beyond the fact that our days are like slips of rice paper – inconsequential until taken in aggregate – the hundreds of choices we make every day don’t matter.
But between the extreme and the inconsequential, there are choices about love and relationships, about who we’re going to be to the people we meet and how we’re going to handle ourselves. And the “right” answer to those questions, to what loyalty looks like in practice, to how compassion is to be put into play, to how far you go or what you owe to another person, those answers evolve. Sometimes by the second. Opinions on the subject are multiple, but the consequences, those are yours and yours alone. And maybe the consequences are not as permanent as a murder, but words are permanent for as long as they are remembered. What you do matters, and it matters profoundly.
I’ve been vacillating. Wildly. Silently. I’ve given up several times a day over the past week, but it always comes back to this, to the things that seems true beyond the facts of the matter. Giving up on a friend is a sad choice of last resort. Shouldn’t there be someone for everyone? Someone that believes positive outcomes are possible and will stand without judgement as a witness, as a “withness,” not to do the work for the person in question, but in quiet support of that work? How can you look at someone within the boundaries of non-psychotic/sociopathic humanity and say that they deserve to be left to rot in their own limitations? How do you just give up on someone? It doesn’t compute.
Still, its one thing to think it through, to arrive at a conclusion that has the resonance of truth and agree with yourself. This is how it should be. It is quite another to live it.
I’ve been on the down side of this circle. The people who let me work it out for myself and maintained a sort of bland attitude about how I wouldn’t always be exactly where I was and that I’d get back to good in my own way in my own time… their conviction that it would get better in combination with their non-judgement of when or how I got there… what a relief. Both the company and the expectation-free faith (if there is such a thing.)
And why should I not be that for someone else? I can’t think of a good reason…