Tap Your Heels Together Three Times, Dorothy…
Editor’s Note: The below piece will seem fragmented and haphazardly put together. This was neither intentional nor was it an accident — merely the byproduct of the nature of the topic it attempts to discuss.
There are those of us who walk in straight lines. They know exactly where they’re doing. They know where they’re coming from. They know what they want. They make no move that wasn’t strategically intended. They see their goals, desires, wants and needs ahead of them at all times. They stand out within the crowd. Their mark is that of intention. Nothing is left to chance. Whims are not accounted for. The plan must be followed through.
There are others unlike them. They drift like a spore in the wind. They don’t look behind them to see where they have come from. They don’t know where they want to end up. They aren’t entirely sure of what it is they’re after. They see the world as a place full of possibilites and numerous options. Perhaps one too many for them to truly “settle” anywhere. They’re you, and they’re me.
Drifters are prone to walk out on things. It isn’t that they’re quitters, hardly. It’s just in their nature to be discontent with the status quo. They are yearning and searching for an indescribable object and destination. They don’t know where it is, what it is or how to get there; but they are forever in pursuit of it. They walk away from things that no longer give them the feeling that they are on the right path to get to where they need to go. This can extend to anything from the place they live in, the job they hold, or indeed, even a relationship with a loved one.
New relationships start much in the same way for many of us. Someone new comes into your life, and you know that you must “earn” their love, affection and respect with your actions. Simultaneously you expect that they are likely to walk away should not provide the understanding and support their require. The same applies to you from their perspective. Both individuals need to come together, work hard and contribute equally to the relationship. Communication and being aware of the other one’s needs is crucial — but perhaps nothing is as detrimental as being able to walk away from it all.
It may sound paradoxical to say the least, but it’s indeed our ability to walk away from others in our lives which reflects the strength of our bonds with them. On the contrary, being bound by obligation to someone else in the context of a relationship only works to foster a false identity to the relationship and creates a misplaced and misshapen sense of security — disingenuouity.
“Love does not obey our expectations; it obeys our intentions.” ~Lloyd Strom
Many people would consider this form of thinking somewhat crass and insensitive — viewing it as being akin to not being genuine with those who choose to share their lives with you. It has a different angle though, an angle from which you could come to see this behavior as the ultimate form of caring there is. Consider material possessions for one. We purchase numerous things throughout the course of our lives, and we often find ourselves assigning meaning to them; be they a house, a car, a watch, a suit/dress or even a nice lamp.
Would you be able to walk away from all those things at the blink of an eye? Many people would not. Many would hesitate. Many would consider it a lost investment. Many would find themselves picking and choosing which items “mean” more to them. By ascribing too much meaning to “things”, we lose the flexibility to venture out and explore untapped opportunities. The same can apply to habits. New habits are often difficult to adopt and assimilate into one’s life because the mind is holding on to older habits. They may be harmful — but they are familiar and therefore difficult to abandon. It’s our readiness to “walk away” from older modes of thinking that permits us to adopt new ones, and by doing so, re-shape our life’s path.
Naturally, life is all about exceptions. Walking out on marriages, kids, jobs that pay the bills, or even our passions — they don’t merit the same “lightness” as material possessions — are not as easy to walk out on. They are detrimental to our wellbeing, be it emotionally, spiritually or financially. Their burden can be a strength and augmentation to our life, but it can also be an anchor that keeps us from moving forward. Sometimes such things can be the force that keeps you inhibited, wherein you’re bound because of societal pressures to stay stagnant within the status quo because “it’s the right thing to do”. I’ve known many people who wished their parent had had the courage to walk away from their lives when they were younger, rather than remain and poison their existence with their negligence and passiveness; yet they remain. They remain because they’ve been conditioned to do so — even if they cared.
Walking away does not connote apathy. Sometimes the “right” thing to do is to walk away. Perhaps you realize you cannot be the person your significant other wants you to be. Perhaps you realize you are not the person they imagine you are. Perhaps your feelings towards them change. The ifs are far too many, but those who try to do the “right” thing often fail to see that their fears and selfishness — at maintaining the status quo as is so as not to rock the boat of familiarity — are what will hurt them and their loved ones on the long run.
Perhaps there’s no better testament to the importance of being able to walk away — and its characterization as a reflection of an extreme form of caring — than with romantic relationships. Those who share a similar (or rather, equal) love and happiness seldom question their relationship — or even question the nature of love. Commitment and loyalty are bred into us from a young age, as we grow, we’re taught that walking away from people who love us is an act of betrayal to these values. Consider the case for Buddhism on the other hand, wherein you’re taught to love without expectations.
When one creates expectations, they come with subconscious demands. In a romantic relationship or even within the confines of a friendship, if the tips of the scale between giving and receiving are unbalanced; someone is usually hurting. When is enough, enough? How much of yourself must you lose or how much of your loved one must you tear apart before you can objectively analyze the situation for what it is? What does it take for us to consider throwing our belief systems out the window and come to realize this “love” damages more than it builds? Better yet, how do we come to do what is best for ourselves without hurting the soul, heart and mind of a loved one in the process?
I suppose for me it was always somewhat about flexibility. I think of human relationships as elastic bands. They expand, tighten, tangle and untangle with time. You’re not always on a full-on Romeo & Juliet mode, and you’re not always on “Been married for 50 years and counting” mode either. Each day brings different moods, circumstances and challenges. There are one too many external factors in life that are outside of our control to employ rigidity — least of all when it comes to dealing with the complex emotions of another human being altogether; let alone your own.
Even elastic bands can break. It takes work to tie them back together — if the involved parties are willing. Only now there’s a knot in place. The perception of the perfect elastic band has been altered, you’re acutely aware of the knot, its presence and the reasons for its existence. It changes how you see your loved one and how they see you. Some can overlook this and carry on, while others cannot.
The key to utilizing the concept of walking away as a form of empowerment rather than a mental escape route when the going gets tough? Selectivity. Try your best to have everything that enters your life — be it a person, a habit or material possession — be a deliberate choice. Going with the flow can rob much off of you if you end up driving on auto-pilot for too long. The key is to create a weighty meaning to things and ascribe importance to the things that affect your life proportionally. The key is being able to recognize when walking away is good for you, for others and for overall advancement.
What are you ready to walk out on?