“It’s really pleasant to listen to [Kakuro Ozu] talking, even if you don’t care about what he’s saying, because he is truly talking to you, he is addressing himself to you. This is the first time I have met someone who cares about me when he is talking: he’s not looking for approval or disagreement, he looks at me as if to..say, ‘Who are you? Do you want to talk to me? How nice to be here with you!’ This is what I meant by saying he is polite- this attitude that gives the other person the impression of really being there.”
~Paloma in The Elegance of the Hedgehog
As I tiptoe precariously along the line between looking introspectively to see how I can improve and grow, and looking outward to see how I can serve God and those around me, many things are slowly becoming apparent to me about who I am and how who I am affects those around me.
At the beginning of the summer, when I chose to dedicate myself more than ever before to purposefully cultivating friendships with those around me, I knew in my heart that 1) it would not be all sunshine and daisies, as real people tend to lead real lives with real issues, and 2) I had a feeling that I wouldn’t escape the summer without some realizations about myself. In fact, I hoped that I would learn more about myself.
And I have. And I am.
When I took a step back and began to study myself and how I look at those around me; how I see you and talk to you, I noticed a recurring flaw. Deep inside me, I believe that communication; talking and moving and looking and seeing and living with other people, is responding. I do this, you respond this way, I respond back, and we’ll move on from there. I have a part and you have a part, but if you’re not going to do your part, I might not do mine, either.
Because I don’t want to go to all the work of investing in someone else, if I’m not sure they’re going to put in their part of the interaction.
The main argument to maintaining this rather half-hearted manner of living with others is that it’s so very easy. I can wait and watch, test the waters and check the temperature, before I step out and do anything, and then I can recede again and wait for the response.
But what about you? What about the person on the other side of the table, the other end of the conversation? Do they feel the love of Christ when I’m passive? Do they have warm fuzzies when I avoid their eye in passing in the hallway? I think not. Hastily glazing over relationships and waiting to reach out until whoknowswhat happens does not point anyone to Christ, and it doesn’t deepen any relationships.
I want to treat those around me as Kakuro does. I want my actions and words to say, “How nice it is to be here with you!”. I want to step out, look you in the eye, and see you. And Kakuro’s not the only one who treats people with such respect and love; Jesus does, too.