Ranting With Cyle: ‘Here’s Where I’ve Been and I’m Back Now!”

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I write to you all after a long absence (no, I didn’t get abducted by aliens {but wouldn’t that be a cool story to share [with the other inmates of the psych ward]}) and come to realize that there is an issue that lingers in our hearts and minds and that needs to be laid to rest. The idea that you must maintain all relationships with the same intensity all the time. I’m talking about something that I go through on a regular basis (besides food poisoning {I have GOT to learn not to eat three day old pizza [did you see me being a role model, just then?]}). It’s being friends with too many people. And it’s feeling guilty when you can’t talk and hang out with every person you know every day.  So let’s discuss this together (meaning that I will say things and you will either nod your head sagely or scream profanity and threats at your computer screen {and yes, columnists can hear it when you scream at their columns, so you should keep doing it [you don’t look like a crazy person]}).

Cyle Durkee.

Cyle Durkee.

Let’s start with the idea of “too many friends”.  I don’t mean that you should be that total douche who goes around telling people “I’m not accepting applications for friendship right now” or something equally dismissive and arrogant. I’m saying that in many cases the field of vision that contrasts good friend from acquaintance has been bled dry of distinguishing color. Facebook, twitter, instagram and their ilk have allowed us to believe that we are involved far more deeply in people’s lives than we actually are. And our desire to feel important to the people around us (which is not necessarily universal {but essentially it is [It is]}) helps to convince us of this and helps our acquaintances allow it, because they want it as well.

I have found myself listening to any number of people who I’ve met a few times at parties attempting to lay a guilt trip on me everytime I see them.  It is usually something along the lines of “Can I see your thumbs?  Oh, they are still there!  I assumed they had fallen off, as I haven’t gotten a text from you in months.” My response used to be some dissembling about how busy I was and how I felt so guilty about not being in touch. Nowadays, it’s more akin to “You caught me. I’ve been sitting around with my thumb up my ass for months. And you know how difficult it is to type with just one thumb. You understand, don’t you?” And then I will walk away, because it has suddenly become obvious that this person feels that it is my job to put extra effort into the relationship in order to keep it afloat. And I used to get upset.  But not any more.

I understand that people are all busy, especially in the arts.  And the rewards can be so limited for the amount of effort that we expend. So, we look to our friends to fill in that deficit.  And they can do so for a time, but not forever. So I decided a change of perspective was due. I couldn’t keep feeling guilty and starting every conversation with an apology for not keeping in touch. So I have decided to take a planetary view of the issue (literally).

I now imagine that I am a star (not the famous kind, the sun kind {though, I suppose the sun could be considered famous as people have been worshipping it for thousands of years [even when they discovered that the sun was going to kill us all in a fiery explosion, its popularity only dropped for a minute]}). I have some gravity. But everything around me has gravity as well.  As I age I become more stable and my gravity well grows.

As a younger star I would be caught up in the pull of other stellar phenomena (crushes, bosses, people we want to be when we grow up). But many of them have been pulled by other gravitational forces out of my immediate vicinity. So, now I am (finally) master of my own little solar system.  For a time, it was all these comets whizzing around and asteroids slamming into things. It was very dramatic and fast and a little lot of crazy. And I thought that I needed to keep tabs on every single comet and every grain of dust.  And then I realized I didn’t. I could be a force for good in many lives, but didn’t need to control any of them. It wasn’t my job to make choices for the comets, just to appreciate the fact that they would swing by me occasionally on their way to parts unknown, knowing that they would be back eventually to tell me stories of their travels.

So, as I became more stable and confident in my own ability to maintain a grasp of the world around me, things started to calm down. And I realized that I had six or seven relatively stable things in orbit around me. These were my close friends. We had found a way to stabilize our orbits for now.  And, while some orbits are smaller than others (meaning they would be drawn close every few days) others were larger and I would only get to experience them a few times a year.

Around my friends I notices other satellites. They all had moons orbiting them closely. These were their close friends. They were part of my life now as well. Though, if for some reason, their planet got removed from my solar system (by getting bombarded by a random asteroid called love or work or some weird astronomical anomaly called massive misunderstanding {we’ve all had it happen}) the moons would most likely be dragged along as well.

These were the people that I now felt drawn to more tightly. If I went too long without contacting them, I would make it a point to set up a time to meet. And they would. Because, we were actually important to each other.  And then I found that I felt no guilt for not contacting the comets in my life. I realized that, from their perspective, I was the comet. We would see each other when they passed through. We would have a wonderful time. I would do everything I could to warm them and add a little kinetic energy to their journey. They would add a little flair to my life for a time, and then they would move along, everyone a little happier for having interacted. I suddenly felt happy for having seen them, instead of guilty that it had taken so long.

Find the planets in your life. Make a good home for them in your solar system. But, know when you solar system has gotten too crowded. We can each maintain a different number of planets, and that changes as we age (goodbye Pluto), but everyone has an upper limit. Understand that most of the people you know are comets, and always will be. They will enrich your existence, but they won’t be with you for long. Let them go on their journey without feeling left behind. After all, they visited because you created this amazing solar system, and, if you let them, they will carry a little light from your star to the next. And while you might feel like a light in the darkness right now, soon your sky will sparkle with the light that you’ve shared with countless other stellar people.

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