Handle With Care

06
Feb
2012
handle-with-care

When I was a little girl I got in trouble for lots of things. Reading at the dinner table, not washing the dishes when I got home from school, spraying hair spray in my little sister's eye. You name it, I got in shit for it at one time or another. The one thing that incensed my mother the most was not taking care of my things. Clothes on the floor, books dog-eared and left splayed open on every available surface, my baby necklace dangling precariously from the bathroom counter. This was like waving a red flag in front of a bull and mummy would lose her shit - "you guys don't appreciate what you have!" she would scream.


I never really got how she made the connection between clothes on the floor and lack of appreciation. It wasn’t that I wasn’t grateful for what I had or that I didn’t  value it, I just didn’t see what the big deal was. What terrible tragedy would befall my Benetton sweater on the floor that would have been prevented had it been hanging in my closet? Books are just as readable when the pages are dog-eared as they are when you use a bookmark, so what difference did it make? The stuff was mine, it wasn’t going anywhere, so who cared if I was careful or careless with it?

Fast forward thirty something years later and not much has changed. I still leave my shit everywhere and my jewelry still dangles from every available surface. My books are still raggedy and even my beloved shoes lay in heaps at the bottom of my closets. At this point I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll always be careless with my stuff.

But what I’ve noticed lately – and what I don’t want to accept – is that I’m not just careless with the things in my life, I’m also careless about the people in my life. If you polled my closest, most treasured friends asking when I last called them, or hit them up on gchat or sent them a Christmas gift or birthday card you’d be met with furrowed brows, screwed-up faces and “um….never?”.

It’s not that I don’t value or appreciate the people I love and who love me. I do. I love my friends and I’d like to believe I’d do anything for them. But just as I strew my belongings haphazardly around my home, so do I miss birthday parties, screen phone calls, and hide in gchat invisibility so as not to be  disturbed. Thankful though I may be for the people I love, I have a fucked up way of showing it.

But that’s the great tragedy of life and relationships, isn’t it? None of us are ever really careful about the people we love. For every time I’ve been careless or neglectful of a friend I can think of a corresponding time when they’ve done the same thing to me. It’s just the nature of life and love. When we have a new friend or a new lover we start out ultra-fastidious; afraid that one misstep will shatter the precarious budding relationship. But as friendships grow and relationships develop we get comfortable. We stop fearing that the person we care about will disappear if we look away for a moment and we start to just accept that they will always be there.

I’ve always believed that life would be better for everyone if we were all just nicer and more careful with the people we care about, but it’s easier said than done. There’s a fine line between vigilance and nonchalance – too much care is smothering and too little is hurtful neglect. I’m sure there’s a sweet spot somewhere in between, but I think I do a piss poor job of hitting it. I’ve always been really good at telling people I love and appreciate them, but showing that in my actions is another story altogether.

Am I alone on this? Or are you guys guilty of being careless with the people in your life? How do you find the right balance between being present in your friends lives and smothering them? Help me be great in the comments.



5 Comments

  • elle says:

    I’ve always been really good at telling people I love and appreciate them, but showing that in my actions is another story altogether.

    This line sums it up. I am so good at saying it, but my actions or way of showing I care do not always match the words. There are times when I think ‘well they should know I would do anything for them, we’ve been close since forever’. But sometimes that is not enough, and I recognize that when I need that closeness from someone. I try to find balance by trying to get together with my loved ones and friends when I can and reaching out to ask if they need anything, or just doing something nice for them that they may appreciate.

    Good Post Max

  • Corey says:

    Ummm…I can’t exactly make out what you got here Max. You’re “you may also like” box is kinda giving the phone a tough time.

  • Most says:

    I think as we progress through adulthood, our own life’s priorities begin to take precedence over the everyday minutia of our friends lives. When we’re young, we want to know every crush, every date, every crush, ever smash and every love that might work itself into the lives of our friends. Likewise, we want to share with them those things of import that happen in our own lives.

    But as we get older – two things happen: First – we no longer find talking on the phone enjoyable. and Second – we realize that our friendships – the real ones – have a deeper more intrinsic foundation and that more times than not, it’s that deeper foundation that keeps you together, not so much the amount you see each other or speak to each other. We realize that whether I talk to you now, or six months from now, barring any major life occurrences, you’ll still be the same, I’ll still be the same, and together, we’ll be the same.

    Ultimately, there has to be some sort of balance. You don’t wanna talk to a friend and find out all this stuff has happened in their life that you’ve missed out on. You wanna be sure to drop in and out with enough regularity that you’re up on the basics. But at the same time, there’s really no need to be sitting on the phone with someone for hours on end.

    Great post Max. And I like to new schedule.


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