Monday, September 14, 2009

Stand Up For What You Believe In

A long long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I had a group of friends that I used to hang out with. We spent a lot of time together and did tons of stuff. One of the guys was really big, moved a little slow, had asthma, had epilepsy, and used to threaten me all the time. That was kind of his shtick. He never hurt me in any way. He just used to threaten me. I never thought that he would hurt me, but it was still a bit unnerving. In fact, it frequently kept me on edge.

One day, we were driving off to go somewhere. I am not sure what we were talking about but the phrase "kick your a**" came out of his mouth. I yelled to my friend to stop the car, said I was sick of it, and got out. After realizing that I was serious, and done, many apologies quickly ensued. True to his word, he never threatened me again. Not only did he not threaten me again, we actually started talking. We had some very interesting conversations while the others were occupied with other things. I am not saying that they were terribly deep. We did not cure cancer, but we were way past the weather. Have you ever had that feeling that you have really connected with someone. It actually does not take too much, IMHO. You just have to start a dialog on something real, not something trivial or banal. This does not happen as often as one tends to think. When was the last time that you actually sat down and talked with your spouse? What have you either not been honest about or not been upfront about? (more on this topic later). What would happen if you made the time to actually talk.

Through the months and years that followed, we actually looked forward to our time together as a chance to talk. We never spoke about the talking directly, we just hopped into things anytime we were near each other. I had not realized how much he also enjoyed our conversations. You are probably asking, "What is this, some kind of feel good blog entry?" I am glad you asked. We were boys. We were teenage boys. We were in fact, several teenage boys. What do you think happens when we get together? What do you think happens when subsets get together? Well, naturally there is some teasing. As you can imaging, the large asthmatic epileptic person was teased a bit too. I even initiated some of it. He was proud of his heritage and would frequently say that he was "half Mexican." One day, when we sat down, I told him that they knew he was coming. "Why?" he asked. Because they put half and half on the table. I tended to restrict myself to things that people were comfortable about so that they would not get hurt by the teasing. I assume that joke did no lasting damage. The others tended to tease a little bit more than that. Jokes about his intelligence and seizures (which I never witnessed) were rampant. I am ashamed to say, that I went along with the flow. I even pretended to be entertained. The jokes were pitiful and tired. But I did not stand up for our friend and worse, by pretending to be entertained I was reinforcing them. I would pay for these mistakes later.

One day, I heard from one of our mutual "friend" a little story. It turns out that B mentioned that he missed our conversations together and that he looked forward to them. Given that those conversations were only between he and I, I think a little jealousy might have come to the fore. Our mutual friend, whose friendship spanned a few decades, decided to say that I made fun of B. That I laughed at his illness and his thinking that he was intelligent and at our conversations.

This would be the last conversation that I would have with our mutual "friend." He took something so beautiful which was found in such an unlikely place. A space for calm, reflection, peace, and comfort. Never mind the fact that B was a teenage boy that had some things stacked against him to begin with, and rip B apart in such a way was one of the most offensive things I have ever heard of. He laughed when he told me. This time, I did not pretend to be amused but I feel the damage was already done.

B.R. I am sorry. I miss our conversations. They were some of the best ones of my middle school and high school years. I hope you can forgive me for going along and not sticking up for you. I hope you have come to realize that I really cared about you and value our conversations for what they truly were.

Stand up for what you believe in today. You may not be there tomorrow. They may not be there tomorrow. Windows close all of the time. If you have the chance, let them know that you care. Tell them the truth. Don't be afraid to have beliefs, feelings, likes, and dislikes. Everybody does, they just don't stand up and talk about it.



kanika said...

Hi Jacob,

This is a 20 year old girl from India. I assume you'll have a lot of visits to your blog thinking you could be the Jacob of Twilight series. :)

I too dropped into your blog through a Jacob Taylor google search and kept scrolling down seeing those interesting pictures and then to this post on a friend you didn't stick up to.

And I have this question to ask you, from the other side of the story- as a friend who was betrayed.

You repent it today and I am sure your friend will be happy knowing that it was never your fault.

But being the friend who was let down, how was it for him, going through all these years? Firstly feeling let down and secondly knowing that his silence had no impact on you.

I ask this, coz I m confused, young and not-so-busy to distract myself and move on. Sadly the age of messengers and social networking sites, we were can see the other person alive and watching us but not talking.

Sometimes I think no point being bothered about undependable people and sometimes I think of all those hours I spent in building up friendships that now seem lost.

Its confusing.

Jacob Taylor said...

Kanika, I am glad that you stopped by. To clarify, he was a friend that I did stick up to. When I stuck up to him, we became friends. What I was saying was that I did not stick up for him. He was in a position where people were making jokes about him while he was not there and I did not stop them.

As it turned out, the main person that used to bring us together was married and moved to another state. I have not had a chance to see BR since then.

It is hard to say why people are not good about reaching out. I have found myself literally spending years thinking, I really should contact X. Years. It only takes a few seconds, I can type pretty fast. I care for this person deeply. He is probably actually feeling hurt that I never really called or wrote. One thing is that I think we tend to have an overwhelming number of people in our lives. We spend all of our socializing energy on the people that are right in front of us. People that are farther away, or that have some kind of awkwardness when interacting are less likely to get your attention.

I would spend my time with the people that treat you well. You deserve nothing less. Remember to reach out occasionally to the people you love and miss. They will appreciate it. Typically, I find that both people are wondering why the other one does not call. Yet, each has a phone. If it bothers you, call.

In my life, there are a few people that very rarely ever call me. One relative, in particular, pretty much never calls. I have to call, leave messages, email, and hopefully catch him one of the times I call. It is hard to spend time with him since it is so hard to get a hold of him. It has definitely affected our relationship. But, I love him and I make the effort to keep calling until I get a chance to talk to him every once in a while.

Hang on to the ones you love. Spend the time with the ones that treat you best. Make sure you treat the people you love well.

Always expect to be confused. :) If you are not confused, you are not pushing enough.

kanika said...

Thanks! I did keep checking in to see if you replied. haha! :)