It is impossible for any person to relate to any other person.
Now hold on, obviously I must clarify that. Put down those pitchforks and torches for a moment!
I mean this: say that you are arguing with someone, or even just talking, and they bring up an opinion or point of view you don’t agree with. Your immediate mental reaction (if you are anything like me) is to think, “Nope! Dismissed. That is clearly wrong”. And hey, you may even be in the right on that particular argument. But right or wrong isn’t what this is about.
Have you ever stopped to think what sort of things went through that person’s head to come up with that opinion you don’t agree with? What sort of things in their life, in all their years on this Earth have influenced them to a specific way of thinking? Where did they draw connections in their minds between certain things to come to the conclusions they came to? Were they ever misinformed? Were they ever hurt by something or someone, and thus their opinion of certain things became colored?
Unless you have all the details, unless you have literally lived their life, had all the same thoughts and experiences, you can never really, truly know where the other person is coming from.
Thus back to my original statement: It is impossible for any person to relate to any other person. I realize I should probably throw the word “completely” in there, because after all it is feasible to relate to others on some level or another; the only issue is that if I say, “It’s impossible for anyone to completely relate” then that implies that any state short of complete is possible. And that’s just not the case.
I’d like to think, if I’m talking to you, that I can tell if you are upset. Maybe you had a lousy day. Maybe you need some comforting. But that’s when a day was wholly bad. What about when you just have one small disappointment? You know, the kind that slowly stack up and all seem to hit you at once later in the day when you’re alone and more reflective. Maybe your boss criticized something that you thought you did well. Maybe some event you were really looking forward to got cancelled. Maybe that one person you really wanted to look your way didn’t even notice you were there. Those things we don’t normally let show. They eat us up inside, but on the surface we’re all smiles and laughs.
How on Earth is someone supposed to understand that? How are they supposed to see through the darkened window of your eyes to the hurting soul underneath? You know, in a lot of interviews with the families of suicide victims, they always say that, “We didn’t see it coming. They seemed perfectly happy”. Now, you and I both know that some of those people might have been a bit negligent in their relationship; but I bet most of them quite honestly didn’t see it on the horizon. Their loved one had a good brave face. Inside, however, I’d suspect the person was always second-guessing, always berating themselves, always a disappointment. Life seemed so difficult, and they wanted comfort. But how was anyone to know that? They seemed happy.
I’ll reiterate this once more: It is impossible for any person to relate to any other person.
And that is what brings me to the main topic. A miracle, really. An enigma. If one thing in this life should give you a genuine hope for humanity, this is it.
People fall in love with each other.
Why? Why would they do that? They can’t really and truly know the other person, they can’t see their thoughts, and can’t predict what they might do next. And yet, each year there are millions upon millions of marriages across the world. People committing their lives to one another; sharing an existence with another human being. I hope you realize just how amazing that is. It takes my breath away.
We all love to share. I’d think that we enjoy letting our loved ones in on our lives, letting them know what we think about things, giving them our perspectives in a never-ending quest to help them understand us better. But there will always be that part of our minds that is closed, where we feel things we cannot possibly express in words, and even when we want to share them, we cannot. In spite of that, we’ve overcome our understanding handicap and done what I would have thought is impossible. Opened ourselves up to another person. Made ourselves vulnerable to them.
I often wonder, as I’ve said before, what my future holds in store for my own love. What sort of person will I meet? How well will I understand her? Will she keep me in the dark when she’s feeling sad or disappointed? How well will she understand me? Will she try to get through my walls? Will I be able to let her in if she did?
Now that I think about it, maybe not knowing is part of the magic. We’ve traded one thing for another. No, we cannot completely comprehend all the thoughts that go through our lover’s minds, but we can try. We can keep trying, and be amazed at what we discover about them each day.
Brendon “just wants to understand” Regier