I think there’s a portion of everyone’s brain that is fascinated with the science of relationships. Even those who live ignorant to the actual psychology behind social interactions will find themselves counseling they’re friends, loved ones, or even complete strangers on their dealings with others. What sticks out to me as the most common reassurance to those in the middle of a crashing relationship or dying friendship is that you can’t expect to change someone who doesn’t want to change themselves.
Okay, so we’ve established that. There’s a reason we hear this statement time and time again. There’s a reason it doesn’t prevent one from feeling the need to speak those words to others over and over. It should be clear that maybe, what we see on the surface when observing this misstep isn’t all that it seems.
From my experience, my tendency to keep myself in unhealthy relationships and associations isn’t because I’m driven to change the other person. It’s because I remember the better times. I struggle to let go of the earlier stages where we’re driven to please and learn about each other. I believe people are pulled inexorably toward each other for a reason. The problem comes in when that reason turns out to be different than what we desire it to be.
In every association with people around us, we should always find ourselves walking away with something valuable. Pain is like the penny if we were to convert these values monetarily. There’s only so much you can take before your pockets are full and you have to cash it in if you’d like to hold something more than a virtually worthless piece of diluted copper in your hands. Pennies are everywhere, we don’t even notice them until there are so many that all the other coins in the jar seem to be becoming usurped by them. We hate them, they burden us, we vacuum them up with the dust on the floor, we throw them out with our pocket lint. Pain accumulates in a very similar fashion. Eventually, when this is all you can seem to find yourself storing away, the time has come to give up on those brief times you were gathering quarters, dollars, and gems. You can only gain so much knowledge from pain… you can only live for a short while on pennies.
Living off of the memory of happiness gets you even less. This is like recycling cans, gathering the change, and using it to buy more cans of cheap beer. The time will come when you can no longer feed off of what you gained early on… and we all know what years of cheap beer will do to one’s body. We collect memories for the same reasons we get drunk. The ultimate digression. We remember so we can forget… many an alcoholic was born from the temptation of numbness. Our futures can’t be built on a desire to go back.
The most we can do is see those who are important in our lives for what they are each day. Take something away with you every moment you share. Make the effort to show a different side of yourself on occasion… your thoughts, your feelings, your hopes and dreams… these things should change as quick as heartbeats.
Give what you want to receive, be bigger than the penny.