The Luxury of Knowing

(Originally written on June 15th, 2011)


I am often struck by the realization that so many people are unwilling to share their deeper thoughts and feelings with their fellow humans. And while I can certainly understand a reluctance to open up the most tender, personal and fragile thoughts to another person, I believe that there is a beauty to the possibilities that such a sharing can bring if you can overcome the fear of doing so. There is nothing else that can provide this depth of communication and the joy and the connection that a mutual partaking should yield.

It is of course worth noting that there are people out there who are, simply put, jerks. They won’t genuinely care about your deeper thoughts and feelings, and they might even laugh or condescend or turn around and spread silly gossip. This is most unfortunate. But it should not stop you. If somebody laughs at something you believe in, then you should just shrug it off and know that they simply disagree, they probably see it in another way, they may or may not have the upper hand on the subject, and while they may actually find it funny, this should not in any way demean the idea in your own mind. Even if they turn out to be the most jerkish of all jerks, and have nothing but ill intentions toward your precious feelings, it was still a worthwhile endeavor. You now know that they are not worth your precious time. Better sooner than later (or never at all). No other part of your thoughts need be affected. You can filter them out, and become that much closer to realizing who all of the legitimate connections in your life truly are.

Think of all the wildly vast consciousnesses out there, each of them shaped by an utterly unique set of experiences and genetics. To me it is a wonder that any two people can get along so well as to be able to share in the most deep and meaningful pursuits of all. And yet there are plenty of them… all it takes are two people exhibiting a genuine mutual interest and respect of each other and the desire to share with each other these treasures that are their thoughts on this crazy and entirely subjective world of ours. Of course it helps if the two minds are naturally similar in their thoughts, but even this is not necessarily required. Even two people who disagree on all of the most fundamental beliefs between them can still achieve this profound connection simply because they are so different. Disagreements are underrated. Ideally, they should only work to expand the considerations of both parties, at the very least. There doesn’t ever need to be offense.

You should be able to walk up to somebody, even a random person on the street, and tell them that you think that something they think is wrong, and expect nothing but a respectful curiosity in why you feel this way. Maybe a healthy debate follows, or maybe you both simply agree to disagree. Either way, each of you now knows at least a little bit more about each other, and this should be a celebrated thing. And maybe, just maybe, one of you will have succeeded in convincing the other of something that they had not yet fully considered. In any disagreement there is the possibility of a furthering of understanding. If somebody proves you wrong, don’t see this as an attack or some form of disrespect—see it as an open window into unfamiliar terrain, providing hitherto unexplored realms of knowledge and viewpoints.

This connection between two people, this sharing of thoughts and feelings, is so powerful and important. Of all the life forms that walk and crawl and slither and fly around this planet we all inhabit, only your fellow humans are capable of sharing this with you. And although there are fellow human beings practically anywhere you can go, it is but a minute fraction of all the life that abounds on the Earth. And on a cosmic scale the significance is much more striking—you could travel a thousand light years and never ever find a fellow human being with whom to share your mind. It’s all right here, around us and among us, and yet so often we shy away from anything deeper than a laugh or a similar taste in a movie or a song.

I can only imagine that any individual person has as deep and complex a mind as my own. And I try to imagine all of the seven billion of these roaming the Earth, interacting each and every day with countless others, and the insane tangled mess of interconnections that results of this. But the thing that troubles me most of all is that without this effort applied between any number of people, there is no connection to speak of. If you don’t share your deeper thoughts and feelings with those people you trust them with (hopefully a great many of them), then what are these thoughts and feelings really worth, in the grand scheme of things? You can entertain these ideas in your own mind each and every day of your life—all the while building them up and furthering them—but the sum of your thoughts and feelings are only set into some sort of legacy in proportion to how many people (and how deeply with each) you shared them with.

This is by far the biggest inspiration I have for writing these "essays." I want to share these thoughts and feelings that I feel so strongly. I want to know that people have a deep understanding of how I feel on the widest variety of subjects as possible. And I’d like to know how each other person feels on the same topics… whether they agree, and whether they might have more to add to the ideas, or whether they disagree with any number of them and why this is so. I’m always delighted to have my mind opened further to some consideration that I had not approached from a certain angle (if at all), or to something that I might very well have simply gotten wrong for all this time. I hold no negative feelings for someone who disagrees (respectfully) and especially for those who will take the time to make this known and to offer their own differing viewpoints in return. If it suits my worldview even better, then it was a productive sharing. And if it serves to further solidify my worldview, then it was still a productive sharing! It should be worthwhile either way. And this should be how it is for everybody and for everything.

The most frustrating of all is a lack of communication between potential romantic partners. Once the interest has been established (which of course should have its foundations rooted in this very idea of sharing thoughts and feelings), it should only be natural to continue to further them—willingly and mutually. And yet I’ve spent the better part of the entire past year constantly struggling to establish this foundation, even in its most rudimentary form. No matter how deeply I divulged my deepest thoughts and feelings, I was met with a perpetual wall in return, with a sign posted claiming to be “afraid to share my feelings.” Apparently the humble admittance of everything I long to pursue was not worth reciprocation. The wall remained, and I had only the briefest glimpses of a potential that looked so bright and hopeful. And I’m not proud to admit that it was these momentary glimpses that kept me hanging on to the belief that the wall would eventually crumble down. I see now that, if this ever really was the case, it required more skillful tactics than I have at my disposal. There is definitely a point where an excess of blind optimism becomes naivety, and I’m extremely troubled by how blurred and indistinct this line seems to be. I need to get a better grasp on how to separate the two and to remain in the realm of realistic optimism. I feel like I am making some progress with this.

I thrive on mutual interest… mutual effort—for both friendly relationships and for romantic ones. I don’t know why I was held captive for so long despite the constant disappointments. But I definitely feel like I have now learned some extremely valuable life lessons on such matters. I will no longer blindly fight for a connection that is repeatedly swatted away and stomped on. I have no problem with making a first move, but unless it is returned fully in kind, then there is a serious concern right away. I realize, even as I sit here and type this, that this sort of thing is an easy thing to say, and that when it comes down to it all over again there is every possibility that I will simply fall into the very same spike-lined emotional holes I’ve been working so hard to climb out of for the past several months. But I am going to do my absolute best to gather up the tattered threads of my capacity to pursue further interests, and I will be as cautious as the returns on my efforts dictate.

And so I’ve come to realize, in the past year far more than ever, that there is a luxury in knowing how somebody feels—both about their deeper thoughts and feelings and about me (or, in your case, you) in particular. If you are a particularly well-spoken person then it is probably no problem for you to open up and let somebody into your mind and to share with them how you feel on your most cherished thoughts and feelings and, here especially if they are a romantic interest, your emotions. But to receive the same in return has been exposed to me as one of the finest and most elusive luxuries a person can receive—because any individual has no control over whether or not another person is willing to entrust them with this treasure of a connection. And it is truly a treasure—perhaps the most valuable of all luxuries this world has to offer its inhabitants, because of the beauty that is felt when you know that somebody else feels the same (or is willing to discuss their differing feelings) about some thought that you hold so dear to yourself.

If there was a well that contained all of the depths of my patience, I would carefully spoon out every single last drop of it, if that's what it takes.

And if the returns of some endeavor are proportional to the difficulty with which it is overcome, then I stand to become the happiest man on the planet.

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Posted by Eli Stanley | at 5:46 PM

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