Transitional Relationships


=n Connection between people during changes in lives that is either a result of or in process of change. As lives move from one stage to another, the shared connection may cease to continue depending on the direction of change.

In the wonderful world of life mathematics, there is a saying, the only constant is change. From birth to child to adolescence; from quarter-life crisis to mid-life crisis; change is a constant in life. Unless you live in an enclosed circuit of people, the only constant is also people that enters and exits our lives. In the post-industrialization world, some sayings also become cornerstone of our lives, for example, ‘invest in the future’, and ‘build to last’. These steer us towards translations such as, “don’t bother with people who are only in our lives for a short time”; “focus on those who will stay”. What happens when that that is built to last falls and those who are meant to be around leave?

Once upon a time, ‘disposable goods’ did not exist. Like antiques collector, I surveyed the authenticity and value before allowing entry into my world. For those that entered, I took great pains to care and build. Everything and everyone is guarded with a bestowed value and losing often leaves a raw exposure like the odd shape formed by the surrounding dust that had gathered over time – the mark of a previous existence. But this loss is a constant. People grew apart when paths no longer cross. Each milestone in life is like the direction sign, a left turn and a right turn and suddenly, together – we no longer are.

Yet, grow and go we must. In reality, the people and the relations I formed at each turn have brought me boundless rewards. It is the focus on loss that had clouded the sense of gain and crippled the courage to be open and welcome. When I look back, an ex-best friend of 9 years was the one who brought fiction into my life; a self-professed playboy sat with me through the toughest days watching ‘Will & Grace’ helped me find laughter in tears; a nomadic norman touched the only soft spot in a hardened heart and palpitate it back to life; a hopeless romantic’s message cooed me off during a time when people bled out of my life; a snowboarder in suit’s hug was the human touch that fed a yearning like a mother’s hug assures her baby. 
I’m sure none of them has realized the mark they left in my life, yet I relish in the sweet aftertaste. It is only the refusing to let go that taints the sweetness and the disappointment of them not blooming to greatness that brought pain and bitterness.

In the end, it is these little spurts of connections that formed a line of existence. At each transit point, whether it is a new country to move to, a new job or a new state of mind, the so-called supporting characters in my life has formed my multi-dimensional plot. They may never stay to make regular appearances but they had each offered something special. They are essential to a lifetime of riches that on my own, I can never fabricate. 

For those that stayed to make regular appearances, transitional relationship formed the basis of longevity. The friends that have stayed through the years were built on various transitions. Through each change, we have found something that still connects us in spite of career choices, life changes. It has actually held us stronger together. 

The future should never be the enemy of the present. I can never foresee the outcome of each relationship and I may never be a regular appearance in another person’s life. Yet, each is a richness we can enjoy. The future is but the means, the present the end.

Post note: While I reread this essay, I also thought about losing and being careless in losing. This poem by Elizabeth Bishop is a great reminder. It’s called One Art.

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