I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what we require of ourselves and what we require of others. What can we reasonably expect from other people? What can we reasonably expect from ourselves? And are our standards different? I’ve always been aware that my standards are a bit skewed for certain emotions, by which I mean that I think I expect other people to be happy and allow myself a bit more breathing room. Whereas, when it comes to sadness, it’s the complete opposite. It is sometimes – most times? – easier for me to bear my neighbor’s burden than to ask them to help me bear my own.
But once we figure out what ratios are healthy for us, then the trick is sticking to it. As my mother likes to say, “people don’t change – they just stand more clearly revealed.” We have all had friendships sour because the person never stopped leaning on us, never started carrying their own weight again. And maybe we’ve lost friends because we’ve done the same to others. Do we slough off those friendships? Or do we keep them? It’s hard.
In the midst of all of this weird back-and-forth, this constant assessment, is the central fundamental truth that the only thing about a relationship that you can rely on is that it will change. The Rector at my church, Luis Leon, gave a brilliant sermon on Easter Sunday in which he said that there is no such thing as absolute security. I think that’s right, and I would gently bend that statement to fit this blog post by asserting that there is no such thing as an immutable relationship. The best we can do, really, is to offer up an educated guess and see what happens.
This is what “Don’t Carry It All” reminds me of.
“So raise a glass to turnings of the season
And watch it as it arcs towards the sun
And you must bear your neighbor’s burden within reason
And your labors will be borne when all is done.”