More and more, my girl-friends and I interact like normal grown-ups: I eat with some of them once or twice a week, others I just have tea with every other month. These catch-ups have no clear purpose, we just exchange random gossip or tips on where to shop for what. And when once a child asked me: Aren’t you guys best friends? How come you’re so not close to each other? And why do you never seem to talk about your feelings? —— I had no explanation for it, I could only shrug and say: There’s nothing unhappy happening, you know, and only suffering has this deep aspect. Happy life is just shallow.
Then I thought of what another friend told me. After returning from living overseas, he saidindifference was the thing he found most unbearable in the West, a kind of loneliness which doesn’t get away with people around you. He never knew whom he could share his feelings with: if someone asks you: “how about you”, apart from saying “fine” or “not bad”, what else could you say? No one really cares if you’re doing well or not, the question is like our “have you eaten yet?”, it’s merely politeness. If you say straightaway” I haven’t been well lately”, or “I’m feeling a bit upset”, you won’t get anything but a look of surprise and a “sorry”.The fact is, in their view, discussing your private affairs in public is embarrassing. Since we’re all adults, every situation we find ourselves in is the result of own own choices, and if you can’t bear the consequence of your own choices, other people will be even more helpless than you.
This may be a cold, rational attitude. But I think we don’t show enough that attitude, even as we say that relations between people are not warm enough. In the end, I think we shouldn’t put the blame on people for having or not having “warm feelings”. I always remember this quote: “every adult has a wound in their heart”. Every single person has gone through pain and frustration growing up, so why think that our friends should also be our carers. This is in fact a form of emotional blackmail. For instance, when you complain to your girlfriend that your boyfriend is not considerate enough, perhaps she’s thinking to herself “how can I deal with my mother-in-law and her onsets of menopause,” and in front of this issue, you’ve already become a cloud. When we’re catching up, is it that difficult to simply exchange a few news and spend a nice, relaxing time together?
You may see this as a kind of wasteland, a cold feeling from the heart, the “urban disease” that all complain about: how everyone looks glamorous, but behind that facade, everyone is just tired and cold. But letting this coldness and negativity come out, will that make life more real? I think not necessarily. Thinking that you’re always ready to extend a helping hands to your friends, and therefore others should do the same towards you and listen to your endless complaints, demanding that your friends comfort you: that is an irresponsible attitude towards yourself.
Anyway, going along the road of life, we must eventually do our own walking, and having a partner who shares our values is not such an occasion to rejoice, because as we walk, we’ll also complain to each other about how our feet hurt and our pack is heavy. Wouldn’t it be best if we could simply watch the landscape together?