This year I have been thinking a lot (and writing some
) about invitation. And my final thought for the greater arc of Invitation is a phrase that has been crystalizing in my brain.
It is this: "It would have been interesting."
People can and have given me some beautiful advice about the taking and leaving of folks, about reciprocity, about who's worth what amount of time, about pursuit, about leaving some space, about generosity and about self-protection. Believe me, I listened to it all and thought about it deeply, but some things, you know, just have to be learned in the bones.
And I guess all my learning came down to that phrase, "It would have been interesting."
This world is full of such beautiful people, with their bright minds, their internal landscapes, their baggage, their chains, their revelations. And when I encounter certain of these, I want to, oh, to collect them. I want to gather them in and question them and feed them and give them gifts and give them myself too and entwine our lives and be friends for the short times we're here. I think people are worth the effort. My efforts can be a bit colossal. To some, perhaps overwhelming. Or intimidating. Or erudite. Or precious. Or something.
I don't know what I am to other people. It's rarely how I feel I am, I know that. How I want to be. The strange ways other people experience me. I look around at the friends I made and I'm surprised I'm even this lucky. This inundated with richness and affection.
And this raging tenderness wells in me, and I am so monstrously grateful, and know that any expression of this love and gratitude, no matter how grandiloquent, will never be sufficiently adequate. And maybe I should stop pursuing every bright new thing and concentrate on those who already deigned to let me into their lives.
That said, I can't seem to resist the lure of a new universe to explore if it passes into my sphere. (The phrase "cannibal galaxy" comes to mind. But don't let that frighten you, dears.) Knowing this about myself, knowing it for sure now, I have to cope with my own habits of outreach, and also their consequences.
It has to be a good and fine and wholesome thing for me to pursue and invite and lavish and communicate and ENDEAVOR TO CONNECT. To build community. It has to be, because that's who I am, and if what I do so well is really so bad, then so am I. And I can't live with myself if I think that.
That being said, there is also a stopping point. There's a point where, if the response is patronizing amusement, or detached graciousness, or lengthy and wary bewilderment, and above all - no sign at all of interest or reciprocity - that I have to just BACK OFF.
I think I have learned that boundary in myself. That stopping point.
It could be after two unanswered emails.
(Emails take time, effort, craft. At least my emails do. At least some of them. And I've been told that it's sometimes very difficult to respond to my emails, because that would entail the same output of energy, so it's easier just not to answer at all. Even with a "message received!" Which is a great damned pity, I think. And for those of you whose emails I haven't answered, I am A BIG HYPOCRITE and you should HATE MY GUTS, but don't worry; you're still in my Inbox. I don't file you away until I've responded. Even if it takes months. And if my lack of response causes our friendship to fade, I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND THAT. Because it's happened on my end too.)
It could be after five unanswered texts.
It could be three cruel things said in a funny way.
It could be five casually broken promises or engagements.
Point is, I found that wall in myself, with the door that opens inward, and that locks from the inside. And the last thing I say before turning the dead bolt is, "It would have been interesting."
It's not the same as saying, "No great loss." It's not the same as saying, "You're not worth the effort." It's not the same as saying, "Screw you if you don't love me enough."
a great loss sometimes. And it would
have been worth the effort. And what the hell is "enough
" anyway, and how do you quantify love?
All I know is that, had our lives entwined, in WHATEVER SHAPE OR FASHION, it would have been interesting. We would have gone to our graves the richer for it. But... Eh!
"Eh" is a good phrase to follow the crack of the deadbolt. Mostly because it's a Morlock Ambrosius thing, and you know my thing about Morlock Ambrosius
. With the wall to my back, I can walk forward, pretending there is a crow on my shoulder and a horizon full of gods and monsters to attend. There are other doors, and other walls, maybe. But mostly there is horizon.
And sometimes? The same people I locked away show up again later. An old familiar stranger. I don't mind second chances. Often am really happy to encounter them. Just glad I can recognize my own patterns, and faster this time than the last. That's the great thing about living this long. You start knowing yourself.