Wanting different things

One of the joys of life is meeting people who want the same things that you do, and getting to share in pursuing them together.

One of the great upsets of life is when enough conditions change that one of you no longer wants the same things.

It really ought to be OK, but it hasn’t been, for me.

When I’ve started to find I no longer want the same things, I’ve been hard on myself, and in denial about it.

When it’s turned out that someone else no longer wants the same things, I’ve been inconsolable and furious.

And I’ve given lip service in the past to the idea that it ought to be OK, as things change, for interests to diverge and relationships to move on and transform.

But I haven’t truly accepted it or felt it deeply. That such is life. That what I truly love about others isn’t how they want the same things as me, but the thriving, yearning person beneath those desires who came to those desires on their journey and may well move on from them.

That if I were a parent with a child whose whims and interests grew and changed over time, I would want to love and encourage their discovery of self and world, not grow angry that they didn’t stick to what they said.

To bring that sort of love to myself is to forgive myself for my own past changes, for moving on to thrive in new ways rather than constricting myself — and to delight and nurture in myself new changes and growth as they come, rather than deny and stifle them.

To bring that love to my relationships is to do the same for others. To reveal and release the never-ending questions of “who are you today? Where are you now? What do you want?” and to know they may well change tomorrow.

This might feel, at times, fearful and uncertain. The inner child who craves stability wants to feel sure of others.

But I suppose that maturing, in a way, involves becoming sure enough of oneself and one’s care of self that one can weather relational changes with more equanimity.

And set better boundaries, too. How I wish I could turn back time to certain events and say, “this is not what I expected or wanted. I thought we were clear. This is unacceptable.”

But alas. Such is only the kind of lesson one can bring forward to the future, hopefully.

In the present, one can only — and must be — grieve the changes that were felt as losses. And the ways one might have behaved for not knowing how to communicate or accept these kinds of changes.