(posted by Ann)
I rejoice in the diversity of my friends.
This morning, I got one of those e-mails that says “If you forward this, you’ll get a check in five days” with all sorts of presumably logical reasons.* And I thought, “What the heck, it’d be nice to see a check in five days, especially from our misguided and hazardous-to-our-stress-levels movie investment.” So I picked five friends at random, people I thought would appreciate not so much the e-mail but my gently poking fun at such things.
First response: “Oh, how I love thee, Ann.” Needless to say, I’m all on board for that one. (Okay, I confess that one came from the person who originally sent it to me. Still, she loves me.)
Second response: “Sorry, I really hate this stuff. Please don’t send any more.” She assures me she still loves me too, despite my sending her a chain e-mail.
Both responses are valid. Our time at the computer—and offline as well—is limited, and we are inundated with things of no interest to us. But my mind now had fodder for playing with such totally different reactions. I’m glad my friends are different from me and from each other. I bask in the positive comment. At the same time, I find myself responding personally and defensively to the negative comment. I want to say “Bravo! I’m glad I’m the kind of friend you can say that to” and “Chill, for crying out loud. It’s just one short e-mail” all at the same time. I’m a magnet caught in that infinitesimal spot, wobbling midway between north or south.
It’s easy to accept praise, or what we choose to interpret as praise. It’s harder to merge within ourselves the reactions to anything that causes our defensive hackles to rise up and do a prickly dance. But really, it’s not about me, and I have to remind myself of that a fair number of times. My friend doesn’t want those sorts of e-mails, that’s all there is to it. The world has not imploded, I am still the same person I was five minutes before I read that e-mail, and life will go on just as it has. If I’m a good friend—and I usually try to be—all I have to do is remember not to forward her any chain letters. I can do that. It doesn’t make her a less valuable friend in any way.
My friends are still remarkably diverse and by choosing to take the ego out of our friendships, I haven’t closed myself off from people who don’t agree with me. Tribalism is in that direction, and I’d rather be of many tribes that limit myself to just one, to be inclusionary rather than exclusionary.
*Just in case you want to try forwarding it on, here’s main part of the e-mail I sent:
“This year’s July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays, which apparently happens once every 823 years. This is called money bags. So send this on and money will arrive in 5 days. Based on Chinese feng shui, the one who does not pass this on will have money troubles for the rest of the year…”
My e-mail added these comments: “Was feng shui around 823 years ago? How about 1646 years ago, so that maybe somebody would have noticed a trend? A quick Wikipedia check tells me it’s been around in some fashion since around 4,000 BCE. Or did they have so little to do with their spare time 823 years ago that they worked out the calendar for the next 820-odd years? And only THEN noticed that, gosh, there are five Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays!! (Or, more precisely, 星期五，星期六和星期日, as the case may be.) 🙂