Archive for Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sedgwick: Heart wins over mind in mending friendship

July 7, 2011

A friend and I had words. It came out of the blue really. If we’d had words before, it just sailed past me like a ship skimming the surface of a lake.

That day I dropped by to say hello. What began as a social visit quickly deteriorated into a misunderstanding and I walked out. That’s not like me to walk out on a misunderstanding. But walk out I did.

I didn’t go back for more than a month. Not that I haven’t missed my friend because I have … every day. I just couldn’t face another outburst. My skin has gotten thinner as I have gotten older; my ability to deal with conflict and to tolerate discourse has diminished.

To lose a friendship over a misunderstanding — or maybe it was difference in opinions — just didn’t set right with me. I’ve tried to figure it out, tried to let it go — the misunderstanding and the friendship.

Like black ink on wet paper, the experience permeated my existence. Let it go, my mind said, let it go. I worked on that for a while: letting the friendship go.

Why, I asked myself, should I be the one to mend the fence; I didn’t break it. That’s what my mind said. My heart had another opinion: Doesn’t matter who broke the fence, who landed the first blow; it just needs to be fixed.

I can be pretty stubborn; the peace-loving Quaker in me wrestles with the stubborn Scotchman in my family tree. Wasn’t it Paul who said, that which I would do, I do not do and that which I would not do, I can’t keep from doing? Or something like that?

I have a hand-carved Jayhawk my friend gave me one year; it sits on a little table next to a photo of a nephew of mine. I miss that boy more than I can say. In the morning I walk by the photo and the little Jayhawk; pause to remember and walk on.

One morning, I was passing the Jayhawk and my nephew’s photo and I asked myself: Is this really what you want, just keep missing people you love; just keep hanging onto heartache because you are too stubborn to walk back in the door you walked out of because of a misunderstanding? Is there a point when friendship becomes as dear as family; maybe even moreso?

My mind and heart wrestled.

I thought about the Little Prince and his discussion with the fox: You are responsible forever, he said, for your rose. Because of the time you spend with your rose is what makes your rose special. It is only with the heart that one sees rightly; what is important is invisible to the eye.

In the end, my heart won out.

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