My friend told me a story about a man she dated a handful of times, maybe two handsful of times, years and years ago. He abruptly told her he didn’t think it would work out. Some moments she thinks he was the perfect one for her, the one who got away.
When she first told me this, my initial reaction was, “Wow! I had no idea! How sad?” Then she finished her story by telling me that of course she’s made this ending up for him and her–because she never really knew him. Because it was only the beginnings of a relationship, but they never got to really know the messy parts of the other, the crazy families of origin, the quirks and bad habits, the short tempers, the rigid way of loading the dishwasher, the “caring” mother-in-law, the dark moods, the healthy liver to process all the alcohol intake.
I sometimes need explanations to lessons, and I understood then. It takes a lifetime of getting to know someone. There’s a song from Churchill that I love, “Miles”: “’…Cause there’s miles of me and you to get to know.”
I understood my friend’s story because I say I accept people for who they are and take things as they come. If you know me even casually in real life, that sentence should have made you snort your coffee through your nose (sorry by the way). That is apparently my goal (goal being going with the flow, not pressurized liquids through your nose). But I’m a work in progress. When I say I take things as they come, I really mean I want to and I try to. In reality I’m a bit impatient and want everything tied up neatly. I want to know how things end. I’m happy to go along for the ride if you give me a hint about the direction we’re going. So those miles of me and you to get to know? I’d like a general destination, please–are we heading up North? Or out West? Or overseas? I’d like to know what to pack and how many snacks to bring.
So it’s easy to make up stories and assumptions and endings. It’s not so easy to sit in the uncertainty of just Being in the process and moments that make up an ending. For me, at least. There is someone who is in my life right now that is teaching me this lesson, yet again. I think this is one of the reasons why our paths crossed–I am still practicing this lesson. Well, he was in my life a lot, and now not as much. So I’m practicing just being as life unfolds. And I’m practicing not knowing what direction I’m heading, and practicing being OK with spending my time in the spaces in between, and risking myself in the process.
Another process opportunity of risking myself is when I write. I write without knowing the ending. I start with an idea, a notion I want to flesh out. I really don’t know what direction it will take until I keep stringing words and thoughts together. Paragraphs form. I keep typing away until I look and there’s an ending. Sometimes it surprises me, sometimes I knew in my heart that’s exactly where I wanted to land, but I didn’t have the words for it initially. Sometimes it takes an entirely different turn from my original intention. Sometimes I get really nervous because I’ve only got a half-baked essay on paper, and it dangles…for days or months. Sometimes I pound it out in minutes. Some of my favorite ones get the least amount of feedback, whereas the ones I didn’t like seem to resonate with people. But I’ve come to learn to accept each essay and not judge which ones are worthy to see the light of day. I’ve learned to just be proud of creating and sharing who I am and what I think, while being scared and brave enough to hit “Publish.”
And in the end, we just never really know how things will turn out, now do we? We never know which One is the One Who Got Away, or Which Essay Will Be Picked Up and Reprinted, until the end. A friend recently told me, “Isn’t that–not really knowing–the whole point? Or, the better point is maybe feeling that someone is worth the risk.”
Yes, I suppose he is right. Maybe that’s all I need to know–that I won’t ever really know. Honestly, that just made me cringe, typing that. Off to practice some more…