In one of my last posts, I talked about narratives that we construct when something happens to us. I find that the case with most any life events. When someone doesn’t respond to an email, when someone disagrees with something we say, when someone says something that we find offensive, or when our world view is threatened. So to relieve the angst, or to soothe our souls, we construct a narrative to help us cope.
The problem comes when we hang on to these narratives for any length of time. It may well be that we have hung onto them so long that we don’t even realize anymore that they exist. And yet they, in essence, now dictate and control how we respond to anything and everything. Perhaps it’s an addiction issue that is blamed on the way we were brought up. Perhaps it’s an anger issue because at some point in my life I was fired from a job. Or it may be resentment because I was mistreated. We don’t realize that our thoughts and actions are created by our own, arbitrary narratives. We don’t see the world as it is but rather the way we are.
And as I suggested earlier, we have a tendency to gravitate towards others that have similar narratives or values that we do. Through history that is how churches, community clubs, friendship circles, and various other groups were formed. It felt good to get together with these like-minded people.
But in the same way this is how often the groups mentioned above run into issues and split up. Disagreements arise, people change their views or their narratives and then seek something else. They don’t fit the normal paradigm and they push for change. That leads to tensions which leads to conflict which leads to changes. That change feels uncomfortable so there is an evolution in the group which leads to new groups being formed as members seek out others who are more like them. In essence people who love the same things love each other and people who hate the same things love each other. And far to often, these groups tend to hate each other.
That’s the big picture. On a smaller scale these same truths hold true in our personal relationships. There is a certain magic when two souls meet and find compatibility. We bring children into the world and love and care deeply. We build a ring of friends that we share joys and sorrows with. We end up with colleagues that bring further happiness to our lives.
But then the narratives of the past bubble to the surface, upend our equilibrium and send relationships into a tailspin. We wake up one morning and realize that what once was good no longer is. We realize that relationships we thought were forever no longer are. We realize that emptiness abounds.
If anything, this pandemic and all of its insidiousness has done just that. It is entirely heartbreaking to see how relationships are torn, how the differences in opinions on masking, vaccinations and lockdowns are creating conflicts and tensions. What is even more disturbing is that most people are so entrenched in what they think is right or wrong that there is no effort being made to curb the discontent. Figuratively, and in some cases literally, many have found the hill to die on.
It becomes more than discouraging to watch the news, to scroll through social media, and to hear the more outspoken speak. Surely there must be more to life and relationships than what we are experiencing now. I suspect that someday this pandemic will pass. (If it doesn’t, I suppose all of this is redundant) And when it does pass what will our relationships look like? It would seem that we could do a lot better now. Because if we don’t what will be left when the smoke settles, will probably just be smoke. Make life changes before life changes. Make it a good one.