Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Propinquity, etc.

I may have blogged about this before, but a concept that has fascinated me ever since it was introduced to me is that physical proximity plays an important role in relationships. Generally speaking, the more you're around someone, the more likely the two of you are to establish a friendship.

For me, casual relationships with neighbors (especially in close quarters, e.g., dorms), clients, co-workers, randomly assigned members of group projects and many others who serendipitously dropped into my life have all occasionally developed into full-blown friendships. In high school, I played a sport every season, so every few months I had a different group of friends to commiserate with and share water bottles with and procrastinate practicing with and gossip with on the way to games. In many cases that team was our only common denominator. Without, we literally might never have had a conversation. (In retrospect this is probably the aspect of high school sports that I most value.)

Similarly, it's starting to dawn on me that sometimes I'm quick to write people off, but when I actually spend time with them, I frequently find that I've misjudged their friend potential. Quirks that initially got on my nerves often start to seem endearing. I'm not sure why this is true; it's counter-intuitive. But I'm thankful for it, because let's face it, all of us do things and have habits that other people find annoying. If you think you're an exception, I promise that you are not.

(I have to add this disclaimer: No one in particular inspired this line of thought! I'm never sure exactly who reads this blog, but no one should get paranoid that they're my formerly annoying friend.)

No one's perfect -- which is a great thing to remember in friendships as well as marriages. I'll give Elisabeth Elliot the last word:

"Many women have told me that my husband’s advice, which I once quoted in a book, has been an eye-opener to them. He said that a wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps 80 percent of her expectations. There is always the other 20 percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the 80 percent, and both of them will be happy. It’s a down-to-earth illustration of a principle: Accept, positively and actively, what is given. Let thanksgiving be the habit of your life."


mae said...

Lee has a great quote along these lines..."If you're picky about your friends you won't have any." Simple, but so true. He's a great role model in this regard-- he has friends so varied that I can't imagine them being friends with each other. (If that makes since. I drank too much coffee this AM!) Lee is a gracious friend, and I admire that so much. Good thing, since it probably helps him put up with me!

Ken Loyd said...

Great words of wisdom and points to ponder (two great cliches). Glad our quirks were endearing enough not to drive you from the county permanently! HA!