Of all the beautiful and not so great things life has taught me in these few years, there is one important friendship rule that I have noticed has held true in all cases. A ‘pause’ helps. Even when the friendship is going great, and it seems like there is nothing left to say but everything to talk about, there is an invisible but definite need to pause.
In any friendship, like in all human relationships, curiosity is the main driving force. The urge to know more, to have all bits of information about the other, relevant or irrelevant, significant or insignificant, is a basic human flaw. The bond becomes stronger with new information, as every facet is revealed, a new perspective emerges. The more the deep talks, the more the understanding.
There comes a point in time where the sharing of information reaches a mutual high, often erasing or effectively smudging the fine line between ‘Too Much Information’ and casual sharing. From intentionally withholding information to the stage of ‘of course you must know this’, the friendship grows stronger with every passing day.
The focus is laid on the beauty of the connection two souls share. It begins with finding common likes and dislikes and progresses to the level where one tries to learn to adapt to the other’s likes, often trying to have more common things to discuss. It might be something as innocuous as a new song, or something much deeper like a habit / trait, unintentional aping begins so subtly that it is barely noticeable at first.
There is nothing more pure than the connection two souls share, a bond that cannot, should not, be broken, even with the strongest counterforce. The innate curiosity to know more, coupled with the complete trust and belief that the other person will (and must) bare their heart out about everything that happens is often the reason why a sudden paradigm shift occurs.
With the mutual friends aiding and abetting, the ultimate crime is done – a crime everyone is guilty of doing at some point in our lives. So much onus is laid on the singular belief that there is no wall or fence in between, the limits blur into a murky grey area that no one escapes from.
The insatiable need to know, coupled with the human nature to ‘own’ everything and ‘guard’ everything they own with a possessiveness, creates a situation where one person is either forced to comply to save the relationship or refuse and risk a breaking point. The strictest parents raise the most efficient and compulsive liars. A curious friend is no better – they give their friend many reasons to evade questions and skirt around sensitive topics to maintain the beautiful connection between both the souls.
The situation turns worse when a mutual friend (introduced by us) suddenly becomes closer, creating a misplaced sense of insecurity. There arises a need to find faults with the new friendship, wondering if the soul connection was so flimsy that it was displaced just because something newer came across.
The brain conveniently forgets that the original curiosity that existed in this relationship might occur in the new one too, and the human need to connect, to feel loved and cherished by yet another person might drive the people to spend more time together, learning stuff and storing and docketing information carefully.
Everything about the new relationship sounds so wrong, and we often end up wondering how our ‘friend’ cannot see the other person for what they are. The points for and against pile up, and the endless vortex of doubts and fear of replacement comes to the fore. The need to be accepted and cherished, more than the unique desire to be the only person with special focus gives rise to a strange wariness and confusion.
This mixture of confusion and fear leads to the situation where we suddenly want to prove that we were there first. We were the special ones, the ones who had the soul connect. How dare do other people think they can get it? Doubts about the friend intentionally withholding information surface and the questions start becoming more direct. The justification of ‘I need to know where I stand’ is the only illogical explanation given to this obsessive behavior.
As each conversation with the friend shortens, the mind and heart refuse to accept that it might be a byproduct of exhausting available topics or getting into that comfortable stage where there is no need to constantly update every scrap of information to keep the relationship going. Doubts surface, gnawing on the old bone of those ‘obvious hints’ thrown up. The brain continues to chew on all the things that could go wrong. The heart clutches in the fear of a good soul connection being broken by some external force.
The urge to prevent all this from happening leads to the grilling of the friend so much that they become wary and apprehensive of explosive reactions to simple things. The very thing that should have been avoided becomes the center point of focus. Each heart refuses to take the conversation forward without ‘crossing that hurdle’ and the stubbornness leads way to the connection becoming sour.
Days go by with one person becoming wary, wondering what went wrong, being afraid of the (over)reaction a simple word might elicit, finally thinking and second guessing every word they speak, and the other person doubting the bond that existed, ruing the ‘loss’ of something so good.
The heart needs to accept that new friendships in life do not mean the termination of older ones, and the brain is not a place that can hold only one person in a particular slot. Different types of friendships can coexist in harmony, with the common likes and dislikes creating stronger relationships amongst the new people while cherishing the old ones.
The ability to let go is priceless. The serene calm that is required to understand that no amount of new water can displace the old well water (okay, that was a bad translation of a tamil proverb, but still) can come only with the realization that the bond that exists is strong – stronger than any force that might try to break through. The only two people who can weaken it are the two who are involved, and that can happen quickly if the curiosity is not controlled.
Much like how silent stares bring forth the most uncomfortable confessions, the refusal to give in to curiosity is what will make the other person divulge the information by themselves. Direct questions and demands only push the wedge in deeper. If the curiosity is abated, serenity pervades the soul. The constant, overpowering urge to know no longer exists, but information finds its way to you despite no questions.
But the ultimate stage is where the new information no longer creates any strong emotions. This stage can be obtained only by the firm belief that nothing can penetrate the thick protective shield that covers the soul connection, the original bond. The only thing we need to remember is that a true friendship is not tested by any external factors. Imagining otherwise is an insult to the connection that exists. The maturity required to reach this stage though, is ever elusive.
Understand the ‘power of the pause’. The necessary break in the constant stream of information is a required detox. As the rate of information exchange reduces, the urge to constantly check out and know more should also consequently diminish and fade, to the point where new information is welcomed with a pleasant smile instead of a greedy need to know and to own. Obtaining this level of friendship is a true achievement not many are likely to enjoy.
But life is constantly evolving! May we all pray to keep learning, and keep our minds open enough to adapt.
*Pensive Hagrid out*