Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Old Flame

A friend shared an interesting question on her facebook wall; she had heard the question on the radio this morning:

"If your friend's other half is hitting on you, would you tell your friend?"

I responded to her post like this:

"The answer depends on circumstances. My guess is that when answering that question on radio, or any public forum, one would say YES, he would tell the friend, simply because that is "expected" of a friend, and that's the "decent" thing to do. Anything other than a "YES" would most probably be in danger of inviting criticisms.

Then there is the other side of the story—the story of REALITY. In some cases, believe it or not, one is also interested in the person hitting on him or her. And the harsh reality is that SOMETIMES, one responds with encouragement, just to see how far it would go; and he or she may then decide to delay telling the friend, until it's too late. When feelings develop too far, it becomes too late. Overpowering passion ensues, and one becomes all the terrible things that one can imagine. It's so easy to criticize him or her as a traitor, but truth be told, one will only know what it's really like if he or she experiences it for him- or herself!"

I know what you must be thinking right now, but to respond to your thoughts even before you raise them here, let me just say that it's my habit to be long-winded when I comment. I'm cursed with this habit! It is very rare that I'd comment with just one sentence!

Anyway, it's almost human nature to judge others. A fit and sexy person, for example, may find it impossible to understand obese people who seem to have no control over their appetite. It's very easy to judge them for being lazy, or have no discipline and will power to deal with their weight issues. But actually, one will never understand until—and only until— he himself is obese and faced with an overwhelming craving for food. Only then will he be able to appreciate the struggle that these obese people have to go through on a daily basis.

In a similar way, it is very easy to criticize people who fall in love with their own friends' spouses, until they themselves experience the same predicament. Always, the tendency to judge overrides the tendency to understand.

Having read my comment on the facebook post above, another friend replied that my comment seemed to have come from my personal experience. I responded that, unfortunately, my life has been rather dull and devoid of the excitement of falling in love with my friend's wife. I was just commenting from the general point of view about people's behavior. But the whole thing did remind me of a different kind of experience.

I was once in love with a girl about a hundred years ago when I was as poor as a church mouse; I had practically nothing to my name, I was not a highly-educated man, and seemed to have no future. I went steady with her for about three years of my life. But fate would have it that we were not meant to last forever. Never mind the details of how it ended, but the experience did make me a stronger and more determined person; it made me reassess my life. When you come to think of it, I guess there is always something positive that can come from what is seemingly the worst of life experiences.

It was perhaps some ten years (or slightly more than that) when I heard from her again. I was by then already married for some years, and one fine day I received a letter from her. Gave me quite a shock it did. It wasn't a very long letter, and I can summarize its contents into 3 main points. The first was that she went through a lot of troubles to get my postal address. The second was that she had been haunted by guilt all those years and wanted to seek my forgiveness. The third was that she wanted us to be friends again.

It was funny, really, because as far as I'm concerned I have long ago closed that chapter of my life. I took whatever lesson(s) I could draw from that relationship and then built on it for, hopefully, a better future. There is really nothing to forgive—if it's not meant to be, it's just not meant to be. Nobody was at fault, we were just too young and naive at the time. Life is short and it can become too stressful to shoulder the burdens of all the bad experiences from the past.

I showed the letter to my wife, and I got another shock when I saw her reaction! To the men out there, let this be a lesson to you all. Sometimes being honest and too transparent may lead to troubles! Women are not always easy to understand—they demand unconditional love, loyalty and honesty, but when you give them those, you may be surprised by their reaction!

Anyway, to make the long story short, I replied the letter and again I can summarize it into 3 main points. The first was to assure her that there's no forgiveness due; and even if there were, I would have long ago forgiven her. The second was that she's always been my friend. The third was that despite the first two points, I would have to make this one letter the first and last from me, because of my unconditional loyalty to my wife. I don't always concede to whatever my wife wants, but I understand why she had reacted in the way she did; and in this special case, I shall oblige her wishes.

So there you go, a bit of my life experience. In all probability, knowing human nature, I will be judged by my readers. The only question is whether that judgement is positive or negative. Let me hasten to say that I'm not perfect; and I just take comfort in knowing that it's impossible to please everybody. That's life I guess.

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