Have you ever come across this image on the Internet?
Of course it’s oversimplifying things, but it resonates with a lot of people when talking about human relationships.
Parallel lines have a lot in common, but they never met.
How do people get close to each other in the first place? Proximity plays a very important factor. You and I, for example, would never have discovered our mutual coolness should either one of us weren’t in the agency in the first place.
Imagine then, the infinite possible relationships that we have missed with other people that could have so much in common but aren’t geographically close. They don’t even have to be in a different country or a different building – in fact, they could be in the very same vicinity with us every day yet we would still miss it because the opportunity doesn’t present itself.
Take the workplace, for example. For all we know, Cindy could be a cool person to hang out with, judging from her arm tattoo and vague Instagram captions. But since she sat two rows apart from me, it wasn’t as natural for the conversation to go beyond small talks and professional matters. There it goes then, a friendship that could have been.
(The above is hypothetical, of course. Realistically, I don’t really get Cindy’s taste of music nor her delayed wit – JK CINDY IF UR READING THIS BELIEVE ME U COOL.)
To counter this, I made efforts to have one-on-one lunches with selected individuals, so we could cut away the pleasantries and proceed to talk about things that matter. I made good friendships with some. Others, not so much. After a while, it got tiring because the ROI was too damn low.
It isn’t a terribly sad thing that some of these “parallel lines” never met. Some relationships are formed naturally, some others require conscious effort. Either way, a person wouldn’t be able to sustain too many relationships at one time anyway. So the concern should be more on how to surround ourselves with the best kind of people.
Every other pair of lines meets once and drifts apart forever.
I have friends from my past life that I don’t keep in touch any longer. Some of them did try to reach out, but it was mostly me who shut myself. Not out of any negative feelings, I just simply didn’t feel like it.
I wonder then, would I do the same to my current friends, in the future? These people that mean so much to me right now, that I profess my love for, would I leave them? It’s quite a poignant prospect, although technically in that future, I would feel the same way as I do now about my past relationships: moved on.
Until one of the person I treasure the most, Melanie, said something along these lines, “One day, we may fall out of friendship. Not out of a disagreement or drama, but just a slow fall out. We might have our different priorities and values, and we would slowly drift apart. But that doesn’t invalidate whatever that we have right now. It has already happened, and it is something to be cherished.”
That was powerful, and it completely shifted my perception. No more tears, screw them fears! Whatever that we have had, we have it. It is true, it is real, and it can’t be denied.
Time is mysteriously subjective anyway. Some people we might only meet once every decade, but the closeness feels like we’re never far. We pick up right where we left. Even if our “lines” cross only 10 times per lifetime, the significance of that ten times is as strong as anything else.
Even if we were to meet literally only once with a person that have tremendous amount of chemistry, it isn’t something to be regretted. Because for that one time, we had a spark, we infect each other with our positive energy, then we resume each other’s journey carrying that energy we’ve exchanged, for the rest of our lives. With you Dianne, Sofia, Flo.
And I imagine, should there be a heaven and we would all be in it (because we’re cool people and cool people go to heaven), I would spot you from afar and shouted, “Oh-My-Actual-God, did you remember this ONE time where we met at that open mic/cell group/Tinder date and we had such a good laugh?”