[Here’s an interesting thing: a post on The Primitive Entertainment Workshop that doesn’t have any monsters or ghosts or aliens or time travel or weirdness of any kind in it. One might even wonder, “What is this piece doing here?” I’ll tell you. It’s here because it was written by Scott Sparks, and Scotty has been with us since the VERY BEGINNING! (Technically, his first four poems were the 20th post every published at the Workshop, and we are now at 5,376 posts…so yeah. Scott’s been contributing for a LONG time, and he gets to publish anything here that he wants to publish.) Personally, I’m all for people working through concepts in writing. I’m a firm believer in the WRITING = THINKING school of literary creation. With these thoughts in mind, let’s see what Scott is thinking about in this piece… —RFY]
This life we’ve been given means nothing without meaningful connections with others. To relate means to have a relationship or connection, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. What elements make up a relationship? Does being blood related decrease or intensify the quality of the relationships in my life? How do I perceive the value of my relationships, and what has life after 30 done to change my outlook on this? I am going to describe relationships from my point of view while answering these questions. Questions concerning my life after 30.
The word relationship can take on different meanings depending on context. The relationship one has with their mail carrier is quite dissimilar to cousins who see each other once a year. While the latter are related by bloodline, the former may be more involved due to the quality and frequency of their interactions, although the amount of time people spend together isn’t an accurate indicator by itself of the closeness that two people may share.
A person must be transparent. There needs to be a give and take between individuals. I have allowed myself to be open with those that weren’t interested in connecting with me on a much more than superficial level. Such experiences have left me increasingly cautious because I’m not of the mind to seek forgettable relationships. I have also learned to patiently take notice when someone is receptive, sincere, and reciprocates without prompting. For a relationship to prosper, I believe it is important to receive just as you give.
From my experience, loyalty is offered only when received. Communication may be primarily through phone calls, text messaging, e-mails, or being face to face. When these interactions become consistent (whether daily, weekly, etc.) then both individuals will begin to rely on one another. (It should be noted that I don’t suggest anyone should deem text messaging fit for primary communication purposes.) Despite the rise of social media, many of my loved ones continually show me support through handwritten letters as well as e-mails and visits. Their loyalty to me is appreciated beyond articulation. As I stated earlier, frequency alone doesn’t indicate the strength of a bond. However, quality time on a consistent basis raises the potential to fortify any foundation.
For there to be a desire to spend quality time with someone, a measure of respect needs to have been cultivated. In my opinion, respect means to avoid committing any actions that will knowingly offend and/or harm another person and to help a person in need if you are able. While I believe respect should be given despite personal opinions, it’s our nature to administer favor more so to those we feel deeply connected to. As I’ve grown into a not-so-young man, I’ve had the pleasure of learning how it feels to be respected. Also, I know what it means to respect the people I love.
Since I come from more than one family, my perspective on the phrase, “blood is thicker than water” is undoubtedly unlike some people’s. Arguments could be made for either side. The connection I have with my many loved ones is indelible across the board. In my heart, the gravity of depth of each individual tendril that adheres me to every one of them doesn’t hinge on DNA alone. Tendencies, predilections, genetics, habits, and preferences ingrained inherently or over time certainly play their roles. All of my parents are ornery, supportive, hard-working, sincere, sarcastic, faithful, affectionate, loving people. Those characteristics, and others I’ve likely left out, run throughout the family.
Whom I refer to as family or loved ones is not restricted to kinship. During the years I’ve been given, there have been connections made that did nothing more than fade. The process of filtration has been arduous at times. My reward for such sifting has provided me with clarity concerning with whom I need to place my value. In 2011, the term “through thick and thin” came to fruition in a gargantuan way. The lowest point in my life candidly reminded me how strong the ties are with which I’ve been blessed. I picture a rope laying slack on the ground that’s momentarily pulled taut to verify it’s secure. My rope is securely fastened. No doubt we all need a reminder now and again. My life after 30 has been filled with them. No longer do I take lightly the effects of my actions or the people backing them. These people I speak of come from ordinary places, yet I see their love as extraordinary. None of them possess inhuman abilities, but their belief in me seems bulletproof.
Waking up in a well-lit, dark place can change the look on your face. Knowing there are “an army of supporters” on my side fills me with joy. When my people saw me stumble, I had expected them to laugh or shake their heads and walk away disappointed. It isn’t because of them. It’s how I see myself. So when I receive a multitude of affirmations of their belief in me, the negative voice in my head loses strength. Admittedly, he is still there, but that little guy hasn’t seen much more than a snack in a good, long while. I’m strengthened by my people, my relationships, my army of supporters. This dark place I’m in isn’t me, but it’s helped me because I’ve allowed it to. I’ve coerced it to, with a proverbial knife to its throat. The blade being my faith and my people’s faithfulness. Their belief in me strengthens me.
This life gains meaning only through the relationships we establish and tend to over time. Through my own experiences, I’ve come to view the relationships in my life as what is most important. Depth and dynamics play their roles; although I value every one of the connections I’ve been blessed with, I’m thankful to have come to this level of realization at long last. I’m thankful for my life—my life after 30.