Thursday, February 21, 2013

(same same, but) different.

let me preface with this. this piece is a bit long, and a lot convoluted. i tried making it clearer, and perhaps in a while i will try again. but understanding how to interact with others isn't always clear, so maybe that explains the lack of a singular direction in these paragraphs. regardless, they come from a place of honesty and genuine effort within me, so...if you're so inclined, read on.

choosing love - that's an intentional thing. there is so much to it, but one incredibly important aspect of choosing love is accepting differences. we are all raised in different countries, in different cultures, in different regions, in different families. but even more than those clear differences, we are all influenced by personal experiences. even those people who grew up in the bedrooms next to me experienced moments - many, in fact - in which i had no part or presence. i have been shaped by experiences my loved ones did not encounter, as they have been shaped by lessons i have yet to learn. it is easy to accept that people are different. that is simply a fact, and acceptance of it can come without understanding. but acceptance without understanding can only take a person - a relationship - so far. and choosing love takes more than accepting facts. it takes accepting another person, whole and unique, without reservation. this is not simple, or immediate. but that doesn't mean it isn't at least worth trying. {do note that i don't mean to say that accepting without reservation means you necessarily remove any boundaries between their life and yours. rather, i think it means that you take them as they are, and frame their place in your life accordingly.}

choosing to love someone means, in part, understanding the beauty of their differences - learning and marveling at how their strengths cushion my shortcomings, at how their weaknesses are bolstered by my strengths. this is true to any degree, really - stronger for intensely personal relationships like lovers or sisters, of course, but still, present in any relationship where one engages in anything more than a cursory interaction. we all have similarities, and often find comfort in these, but i don't believe i can truly appreciate a person if all i understand of them is how they are similar to me.

but to understand, i must first listen, and listen deeply. listen enough. not the kind of listening done in a monday morning class, or with a stranger on an airplane, where the information comes halfway in before flowing back out. and not the kind of listening done at a cocktail party or when reading a blog, where judgments are made on everything heard or read without bothering to learn the story behind it first. i must be a listener of the kind where i set any other thoughts - the grocery lists and facebook posts and work emails - aside, and give everything i have to hearing what this person is telling me. i must, as the dictionary says, "make an effort to hear something."

this listening is not always easy. but it is always worth it. because once i am well and truly listening, it is amazing what can be learned. not just the what, but the why of a person. the impetus for their path, the emotions underlying their interactions. the invisible band-aids they wear next to imaginary medals, sometimes without even knowing they are carrying so much with them. sometimes, i even learn that - although perhaps earned differently - someone's emotional scars are remarkably similar to mine. and because i listened hard enough to find that moment of connection, i can appreciate just a little more the separate journeys traveled to reach that point, and the divergent or convergent paths taken from there. when i listen enough, i can begin to see, collected in the stories, the spoken thoughts, the silences even, a person, similar in some ways, but in others, so very different from any other person alive. and in all of that, i can appreciate the uniqueness of that person that much more. i can choose to love them for who they are.

1 comment:

  1. this speaks exactly to my feelings, my experiences, and my loves. Thank you for being so honest to the world wide web.