As long as you remain flexible, life will keep trying to stretch you.

You are searching for something... and it is in your search that the answers lie.

These are not the answers to the questions that you might think, of course. They are the answers to questions about the meaning of your life, about who you are, etc.

If you have some ideal (or set of ideals) that you are pursuing in other people, and that ideal could correspond to an actual real person, you may meet them someday. It is more likely that the ideal will be a bit out of the the reach of mere mortals, and anyone you meet who matches a lot of your standard will fall short in some area.

If you can remember that this is not a failing in them, but an indication that your ideals might aim too high, there is an interesting way to handle this. You do not have to discard your ideals if you do not want to. You also should probably not discard these people, either.

What you find when you meet people who match a high percentage of your ideals are people who offer you a challenge. The challenge is to enjoy what they offer, to share in the areas in which you correspond to each other, while learning to accept that they are human, and your ideals are just ideas. Your ideal may never be met but you may end up with many wonderful people in your life who, between them, offer an overabundance of all the qualities you seek.

This requires stepping past the myth that somehow just one person will someday, somehow, meet all your needs. This myth is pretty lame, really, and yet we have great difficulty completely abandoning it. Often, it is mixed up in our ideals - not only do we seek some certain sort of person (a set of traits), but we seek one person who will embody all that we think will complement us perfectly. This is the one ideal to be flexible about and possibly compromise.

A little note about the other ideals is in order here: they are mutable and can be in error: you must constantly be revising and updating them: their improvements become a statement about your self: as they become more realistic, and better adjusted to actually complement your self, they will begin to form a picture of your own ideal for your self.

The flexibility is in how you learn to relate to those who offer you a lot of what you want, or some special thing exactly the way you want it. Much care must be employed, and all your social and relationship skills, in order to fashion a clear, honest, and appreciative way of sharing your selves. Perhaps certain cultural mores or personal foibles must be overridden in order for you to accept the sorts of relationships that will begin to accrue to you. Perhaps some of your older friends, and relatives, will have difficulty understanding the nature of these relationships, and life will be more difficult as a result.

The important thing is to value those who come to you with things you need and not yield to pressure to make your life conform to other peoples ideals. The important thing to is to encourage the other people in your life to pursue their own ideals and develop their own unique set of special relationships that meet their needs, without jealousy, without competitiveness. The important thing is to take their side in the story of their life, since if you learn to do that many great people will some to take your side in yours. The most important thing... is to develop ideas about what kind of people you like, not what sort of relationships you expect to have with them.

5/30/01

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printed 30 January 2023
© Huw Powell