parents know

October 25th, 2004

They may not understand much because they're in a completely different phase of their lives but parents do know the simple truths of life. As a kid my parents used to tell me to cherish my family, because they are the only ones in the world that are going to be there for me. Other family would say that too, at the annual family gathering where everyone is there for once, they would emphasize how great this family is and how lucky we all are to be part of it. At the time I thought that was a little exaggerated, I had good friends, I'm sure they would want to help if I really needed it. And it's also that the relation between family and friends changes over the time, many people grow up feeling closer to their friends than they do to family. To the extent that some portion of young adults barely keep in touch with family while they spend lots of time with friends. I didn't quite believe that prophecy at the time but I wonder how many more times they are going to prove me wrong.

As a child, I remember getting really excited about things. Vacations, weekends, Christmas, my birthday, presents, toys, people visiting etc. But as life goes, sometimes you're in for a big disappointment. I suppose as disappointment accumulated that strain was taking its toll and at some point a mental reaction occured. As a child you learn to not get your hopes up, that way you won't be disappointed. That's really a very valuable lesson and if you happen to forget it, soon enough life will remind you of it. At the extreme level, you expect nothing, I suppose I have never felt that. But as far as getting excited about stuff goes, it's practically unknown to me. Since I learnt that lesson properly in childhood, I never get really excited about anything anymore. It's not worth it. Because too often what matters most doesn't work out. So the result is a life of indifference. Days go by but there is little purpose to it. Boredom is being dealt with every day.

A closely related matter is that of trust. As a kid when you get attacked by peers, you learn to defend yourself. Some people fight back physically. Some find a way to bond with the perpetrators so that the situation resolves itself but it takes a bit of self confidence to approach the matter in that way. Finally some do what I did, they zip up, shut down and never let anything slip that could potentially be abused. You go to class with a bunch of people but they don't know you at all, a couple of years later you see them on the street and they don't even remember you. It is amazing how with little effort you can keep in touch casually without ever discussing anything more important than the weather. So that makes you feel empty then, because there's nothing genuine about talking to these people, it's politeness and sometimes necessity, it's not intent. So once the threat decreases, you think to yourself I should try and give a little of myself because this is meaningless. But it takes a lot after all those years to be more open and show people who you are because you're so used to holding back that it's become a second nature. Little by little, you learn to do it and that allows you to get in touch with people that really seem worth the effort. It's such a liberating feeling to trust at least a few of chosen people and not have to hold back all the time. But then the lesson of childhood comes up again. You may just think that finally you know someone who really cares, after all they're willing to spend that much time with you, this could be something special. But then you make the cardinal mistake of getting your hopes up. And you forget what your parents taught you. A person filled with optimism does not think rationally, judgement is clouded by the desire to get whatever it is that you want. And so sooner or later you're in for a big disappointment.

If I could give up all the other times I've proved my parents wrong and trade it for being right on this one, I would.

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4 Responses to "parents know"

  1. Erik says:

    And just now I feel lucky to have a bugger family. We're all spread throughout the country and if I'm lucky, I'll have the monthly phone call with my sister, just to give you an indication.

    Nowadays I'm the kind of person who immediately commits to friendships if I connect with anyone. Sure, you get disappointed and even seriously hurt sometimes but some of them will always work out and I think the pain is worth those few friendships you'll keep your entire life.

    And god help me; I seem to have lost the ability to close up altogether.

  2. numerodix says:

    "your entire life"? Are you kidding? How many life long friendships do you have then? I have one lasting 8 years (which is a wonder and completely unusual) and a few lasting a couple of years, none longer than that.

  3. Erik says:

    [2] Rest of your life then, fine.

    I have a couple with the potential at least right now so I think it's been worth it.

  4. numerodix says:

    Fair enough but though there is potential, if history is any guide, they won't. Seems irrational to expect that when it's never happened before.