Max and I were at the sushi bar this evening and I indulged in my “restaurant vice” of listening to the conversations around us.
There was a guy about my age who seems to work in construction or trucking; he was talking with his buddy about the woman he’s been dating the last few months. What intrigued me was his experience of beginning to build a relationship with the woman’s three daughters, and the “raking over the coals” they were giving him. I was struck by the complexity of this situation, and was touched by the care – even reverence – he held for the situation. At least to his buddy, he expressed no impatience, no regret, no blame, but you could hear some pain and uncertainty and hope all mixed in his voice as he shared what it’s been like to be introduced to the girls as their mom’s new “friend.”
While I was touched by his tenderness (though presented in a “guy” slap on the back fashion), I was also thinking that the poor guy’s in over his head. As the generations roll on, we’re increasing the complexity and removing support systems. Many, maybe most, of us are trying to do right by one another — but we don’t quite know how to navigate these new situations and roles. While the logistics are not that daunting, the emotions are very messy; maybe it’s just that there are so many opportunities for “big” emotional experiences in all this social complexity? And how do we learn to navigate this new terrain? We’ve barely learned to cope with the world as it was, and each day we’re adding complexity — creating situations none of us is equipped to handle…. yet somehow, with luck and the many blessings that strengthen us, we stumble onward and sometimes it seems to work.