Archive for July 5th, 2012
Free samples! Yum.
The Toronto Islands are a chain of small islands within Lake Ontario. Ferries depart from the mainland every 30 minutes to Centre Island, Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Point. The islands are popular recreational areas composed of beaches, residential homes and an airport. The best part about them is that they are car free, so to get around you will only need your feet or a bicycle as means of transportation. Another perk is that if you’re looking for peace and quiet you can find it easily.
Centre Island is the most visited, but Hanlan’s Point, Toronto’s only clothing optional beach is a guilty pleasure for many. The water is clean and blue, and the people are happy and full of serenity. Partly because they’re naked and free!
Here are a few pictures from my adventure on Centre Island a while back.
The latest Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes divorce has me thinking a lot about relationships. Not so much about the nuts and bolts of what it’s like to be attached, but the judgments we place on other people’s relationships with no objectivity.
There isn’t anyone among us who has not experienced the disillusion of a relationship. It’s not easy to spend so much time with just one person, and challenges eventually arise. Because we have a juvenile notion in our mainstream society that ideal relationships should be simple, we’re left with conflict.
All of us have already made judgments regarding the Cruise-Holmes divorce, and many of us have already picked sides. We do this without knowing either individual personally, or having any intimate knowledge about their marriage.
We can’t seem to help it. Gossip is seductive. But it doesn’t do any good. Gossip is false, and unprogressive.
From my observations we tend to look at relationship problems through archetypal lenses. One individual is good, and the other is bad. Someone did someone else wrong, and he or she must pay. In some cases the guilty party deserves part of their punishment, but why do those on the periphery need to get involved in something that is clearly none of their business?
No one knows what goes on in a relationship except the two — or three!!! — people in it. Spending two hours a week with them does not give us any clearer insight, and it’s important to remember that.
On a personal note, approximately two years ago I experienced relationship problems myself. I have never written about it until now, and this is the first and last time that I will.
We had been together for ten years — since I was 21 — and I felt it was time to evaluate where we were, where we were going and how to solve unresolved conflicts. I tried to do this privately, because I felt that it was the mature thing to do.
Often when we talk about our partners to our friends they only hear the negative; we should have more courage to talk about our love for them. It’s easy for friends to make false opinions about your relationship if all you reveal are problems, or insignificant, petty arguments.
My primary objection is not that people made judgments — although that is a part of it — but that when I did reveal some tidbits about my relationship status, friends used the information as fodder for gossip. I had to take a step back and really look at the friendships that I had formed over the last 20 years, and ask myself some difficult questions, none harder then: “Do I have shitty friends?” The only thing I felt after opening up was regret for saying anything. I felt that some of them were revelling in my personal problems, almost happy that they had something to talk about to each other when I wasn’t around.
There were many friends who were never intrusive. My dear Raquel was one of them. She simply said that if I needed to talk, she would listen, and she did. Lovingly so. I trust her implicitly. Alexandra was unsurprisingly supportive. But there were some, who perhaps because they were unhappy in their own lives, not only behaved abhorrently behind my back, but also offered the worst comments.
What I heard was unhelpful. “I always knew it,” one person said. “It’s been clear you’ve been having problems for some time,” said another. One friend said, “You’re clearly not happy.” And then there were others who had unsolicited black and white solutions that they felt I just had to implement.
The truth is I was and still am a very lucky and happy person. I know that. I will admit that I am more open about my emotions than others, and that can make some people uncomfortable. I am a super introspective and self-aware person, and I know that many people are not. Complex issues cannot be simplified into emotional categories. I understand that life is far more complicated than boxes.
Even when I am having personal problems, as we all do, I am hyper aware of how blessed I am to even have relationships, both romantic and platonic, and that conflict, only results in resolution if the parties involved are mature enough. This sounds trite, but each morning I awake with a smile because I am happy.
What I learned from all of this, and through the Cruise-Holmes debacle, is to reserve judgment, and listen. We think that by verbalizing our opinions, we’re helping, but I found the exact opposite to be true. I found the advice that I received to be lip-service, ill-thought, and plain stupid. It did nothing to improve my situation, and any tips that I received to resolve the matter, I had considered long ago.
None of us have perfect relationships, no matter how much we try to convince people otherwise. Part of the problem I think is that we’re collectively obsessed with image and how we’re perceived by other people, and that takes a lot of effort to change. We can say — like I do — that we don’t care, but in the end, judgments always hurt.
What I take from my experience is to make an effort to be a better person, and a better friend to those in similar situations.