The Fragile Eggs of Companionship

I've had the sinking feeling, at times, that I've put too many precious eggs in too few welcoming baskets. And at times I’ve been afraid that some of them, some of the most carefully and deeply invested eggs, have been casually dismissed…neglected…tossed around…even stomped on, crushed and obliterated, whether intentionally or not. And when this happens, what else is there to do but pick up the pieces, these shattered remnants of what had been a blossoming interpersonal relationship, and try another approach? I’m not one to just turn my back and walk away, because there must have been a good reason why I had been compelled to invest so deeply. Some combination of factors had made it worth it, had made it seem reciprocated in kind, and I want to put all effort into at the very least reevaluating and redistributing these factors so that something, if not all of it, can still remain between us. Sometimes this was just a casual friendship, sometimes a much more enduring one, once it was even an intimate one. As it turns out, obviously enough, the magnitude of the resulting damage is in this same order.

Interestingly, it's not those who blatantly stomp on the eggs who inflict the most pain. In this way it's quick and made very clear, at least, despite the violence, despite the pain. No, rather, it's the more casual, slow-going dismissals that are particularly difficult to make sense of and deal with—when you don't realize the damage that has been accumulating, that mess slowly growing in the bottom of that particular basket, oozing and spreading over any other still-healthy eggs. It slowly infects the entire scope of the relationship, so gradually that it goes almost entirely unnoticed until one day you open your eyes and all of the damage, all of the shattered broken mess, is laid bare.

My first instinct upon realization is to gather them up, all of these eggs I've distributed, all of the ones still healthy and functioning at least and, after cleaning up the messes of those that didn’t endure, encase them in something hopefully impenetrable like diamond, or adamantium. Protect them, these fragile investments of mine, so as not to let any possibility remain of such abuse and hardship. Then, once properly armored, maybe give a few of them back (just a few!) to each connection of mine, enough to at least enjoy a nice friendship, and keep the rest of them locked safely away inside an unbreakable vault to deny any access.

But what good would that do? Sure they'd be safe inside the confines of their hardened shells, but life would then be almost unbearably dull and lonely. Because what at first seems better and more comforting, to carefully reinvest the new batch and take in the comfort of knowing they will be safe in their armored shells, is actually its own separate kind of trap; the comfort would be short-lived. The relationships they symbolize would now be unchanging by definition, perhaps even more destined to fade because of this. Because again, a gradually fading, casually dismissed investment is much more damaging in the end, being unchanging in this decline, than one that can be addressed and modified accordingly.

The deeply-rooted trouble here is that addressing the complications of any relationship requires the willful cooperation of all parties involved. So your friend, or your partner, must also desire to make amends together with you. I believe this is the supreme difficulty we all face in our relations, why it sometimes seems so difficult to connect with those we hold so dear. They must also realize that there is something which needs addressing, that there is perhaps not enough cushioning for those ever-fragile eggs you are incubating together. This is the case with even the most casual of friendships, and I assert that this is the primary cause of most, if not all, damaged relations of all kinds.

I think, then, of all the potential, all the as yet unrealized beauty that these priceless, fragile little eggs can bring me and others, the fullness that will otherwise be hopelessly lacking among all relations. Whether this is a “standard” friendship, even if maybe one of those incredibly fun ones that are destined to dwindle somewhat in time (but on good terms), maybe even one of those exceptionally real, dependable, everlasting ones that you can rely on until the bitter end of time, or maybe, just maybe, a romance, the truest most beautiful fairy tale come to reality, it doesn’t alter this fundamental idea of cooperation and mutual effort and consideration.

And sometimes a little nudge is all another person needs to realize a shortcoming on their part; for this reason it is always important to keep up your own efforts. I’ve noticed a lot of people tend to sit themselves on the sidelines and insist that the other person is the one who needs to come out and say or do something, but the danger here is that if everyone involved is under the same impression, nothing is going to happen. Somebody has to begin the effort! But I, or anyone, cannot bring out this potential alone. It is, as uncomfortable as the realization makes me, entirely dependent on others. This has to be done carefully; it can't be forced, or pressured, or otherwise coerced without jeopardizing the very thing being attempted to develop.

No, the eggs need to be able to grow, to hatch and blossom, on their own time. If we want any chance of a meaningful relationship (any kind, friendly or romantic), the eggs need to exist in all their full fragile glory. For when you are entrusted with these eggs you are their incubator, their basket. You need to understand the responsibilities you have been trusted with. Understand that they need love, patience, and understanding—all that you can muster, to the absolute best of your ability. They will thrive and reward you beyond the wildest dreams imaginable. Nothing else in the world can provide this like a truly understanding, mutual relation can.

I can't help but wonder what things would be like if people, with all their feelings and emotions, could be reliably fit somehow into a calculation. A set of calculations can triangulate the position of a tiny rock, or spacecraft, hurtling through space to incredible accuracy. This can be very, very useful, for obvious reasons. That the factors involved are even able to be recognized and predicted make all the difference. The same goes for many, many things in our lives. But such a strategy is all but useless with a person's feelings. Sure, there must be people who have developed an uncanny skill in reading people, and maybe can make startlingly accurate predictions about others and how to go about building whatever depth of relation is most achievable between them. But I don't think there is the slightest chance of such a practice being even remotely reliable on a large meaningful scale, or across a meaningful timeline, by most people. The depth of each person's mind is an unimaginably complex place, and I find it somewhat… frightening, to be honest, but ruthlessly fascinating. Maybe it's a wonder anyone gets along at all, let alone bond like so many lifelong friendships have or especially truly fall in love. These precious eggs we are always entrusting into each other represent so much of what is so advantageous to us as human beings, able to form these sorts of bonds among each other and face the wild complexities of the world together.

And so absolutely any connection is meaningful and important beyond any combinations of words, and is worthy of every bit of care and consideration possible. It's just not worth missing out on because of what may very well be petty differences exaggerated by stubbornness from one or both sides. That person you met one time, who said something weird and you never talked to them again, could have been the most beloved friend or companion you could possibly have hoped to have. That person who you used to be good friends with, and who never seems to call or want to hang out anymore and you don't feel like you should have to "put all the effort in," could also be the most beloved friend or companion you could possibly have. One extra little egg entrusted to them could have made all the difference. You don’t know unless you’ve put forth all of your effort deemed worthy for their cause, and carefully but graciously invested upon them a portion of your own collection of priceless eggs for incubation.

Whatever the case, the nourishment of these eggs needs cooperation and uncompromising honesty. For the love of all things, please let’s communicate with each other. Effectively! It's stunning how often this gets in the way, this simple lack of communication, needlessly complicating things or destroying them altogether. When there are differences between two people, embrace them! Differences can help us learn together, see things from entirely separate vantage points, like nothing else can. And when there are similarities between people, embrace them as well! Similarities can help us reinforce our own drives and interests because we find comfort when other people have developed them similarly yet independently.

If you feel even the slightest shred of feeling for a person, even the tiniest bit of compassion for another, don't completely give up on them when things might have grown awkward or distant. And if someone, no matter how dear to you they are, wishes for you to lose touch with others (or if you realize that this is happening of its own accord), please consider this long and hard. There is probably more at stake than you realize. I submit that it is absolutely not worth it in the end if a newly found loved one imposes upon you to spend less time, or no time at all, with your previously held group of friends. I do not believe that one single romantic relationship can outshine a handful of long-held friendly ones… yet I see this time and time again and is, ultimately, one of the primary driving factors built into this writing.

Because it hurts, because there is no reason why a person can’t retain all prior friendships, even if somewhat less devotedly, after entering into a romantic one. That romance should be built into the already existing web of connections without drastically altering its structure. Otherwise one is going to come across as if those friendships were only mere placeholders for the one actual relation that was being sought after all along. And I don’t believe that anyone actually goes about their lives that way, but many seem to tend to react in such a way as if this is somehow what is “meant” to happen. I worry sometimes that societal factors have built into many peoples’ minds that that one true love romance-turned-marriage is the prime objective and all else is secondary if not spread out to the sidelines altogether. But no, with every bit of stress that I can place on a single sentence, this is not how our ongoing relationships need to play out. All of these precious eggs that have been devoted in such an interweaving mesh of interconnections have had so much care, consideration, and time built into their foundations that unimaginable havoc is bound to be wreaked upon them under such circumstances, havoc probably not even realized inside the blissful mind of the romanced party.

This isn’t always the case, of course, and I applaud all of those who manage to maintain the best combinations of relations possible. In my own experience, however, this is not often the case, and it troubles me more deeply than most things witnessed so far in my time. And I always try to tell myself that it’s merely a phase, an understandable phase where hormones and emotions run rampant, but in truth this doesn’t comfort me much because I know that by the time those emotions have settled, and someone begins to desire those friendly relations once again, they may be long gone after having moved on themselves, having exhausted their own efforts to keep that basket warm and nourishing.

I, for one, am going to always focus on distributing my own eggs as far and wide as I can manage, carefully considering those seeming to be most worthy and considerate of them, in order to enjoy as much shared fulfillment in life as I can possibly maintain. And I hope that others will do the same in return, not only for me in particular, but for everyone else striving so earnestly to connect with so many other people inhabiting this wildly complicated planet together. Each of us are all we all have to truly connect and relate with, and this should never be cast to the sidelines. Don't reinforce the eggs. They need room to grow. Reinforce the baskets, and reinforce your individual efforts to form, retain, and nurture these connections. The time we all have here together needs to be cherished with every fiber of every person's being. Every little tick of the clock occurs and is gone forever. I don't like to think of time as the means by which wounds are healed, but as the means by which they are learned to be dealt with and learned from, and maybe even simply forgotten if such is the case. Perhaps this is what some call "healing”. As long as we try hard enough, the best is yet to come.

Posted by Eli Stanley | at 11:07 PM | 0 comments