Self Reflection

Cao Yi & Sun Li

I’ve been going through older entries and read through “The Laid Back Crew VS The Uptight Duo” again, after so many years. It brought back memories of that fateful day, where my relationship with Albert broke. Then subsequently, I remember reaching out to him and Jenny with an olive branch some years later, but they ignored me of course. I spoke to Edmund about it some years after that. Edmund told me that Albert has changed a lot since we last spoke with each other. Though I wonder how much he really changed, coinciding his pattern of behaviour. Unless some dramatic event happened to Albert to humble and open up his world view, I strongly doubt he changed for the better. A couple of my friends told me perhaps I have dodged a bullet, with Albert and Jenny’s unwillingness to amend our old friendship.

The last twelve years since we last spoke, have humbled me in some areas, while allowed me to grow a thicker and thornier skin in others. To sum it up, my world view, as well as my behaviour has certainly refined over the decade plus, but I credit that to a number of events that had happened to me directly, as well as indirectly. Directly would be things like getting IBS, having surgery to remove my gall bladder which changed my entire life’s decision making when traveling short and long distances, as well as confronting my depression head on, and of course, marriage. Other things like reflecting back on old deeds, old events, old behaviours and gradually evolving how I’ve conditioned myself, into something that can dynamically connect with people. Another thing is how I am able to tolerate in some things, while discard others appropriately. Basically, mostly think before acting upon something.

I want to clarify, that though over the years, I’ve thought about Albert’s friendship with me, and even at various points, defended his actions, after reading that blog post again, I was reminded why we broke our friendship in the first place, as truly, there really was nothing to defend him for. Could I have done it differently? Yes. Would I? If I had today’s wisdom, back then, yes, but there lies the problem. I cannot have today’s wisdom, if my relationship with Albert continued. I couldn’t have evolved my thought processes, my capabilities, and abilities, if I had continued to stick around with that sort of toxic abusive behaviour. I would like to believe he has changed for the better, but I surmise he’s just the same person with more authority and wealth. Career-base success that brings wealth and stability, often allows people to reward those around them with gifts and their time. However, that is in itself, a facade of their ego. I am not saying people cannot gift things to their friends and by doing so, they are inherently doing it as a show of their influence. I am instead saying that people aren’t just one thing and within the dynamics of what they do for others, they can very well be incorporating a part of that ego in a characteristically wicked way. Coinciding Albert, based on his past behaviour towards his friends, if he does do this, he might view this as a currency, rather than sincere love giving. Currency in which he tells himself that he does X for Person A. Therefore one day, Person A is beholden to him to do something back.

Sometimes though, I tell Amber that I wish Albert and I are still friends, but I say that on the notion that he didn’t have Jenny yet. While he was still petty and anal retentive pre-Jenny, at least he was my friend. After Jenny went into his life, he became less my friend, and more a dictator who demanded obedience. It’s a bit sad now that I think about it. We once spoke frequently about the Three Kingdoms period and for a time, considered each other brothers. We envisioned a time in the far past, where we rode around on horses with packs on our backs, and just enjoyed each others’ company around a fire. Sometimes, we spoke and drank wine. Sometimes, we would sing a song of our village. Sometimes, we would just enjoy the nightly sounds in silence. That was our friendship. That is what I think about when I tell Amber, that I wish Albert and I are still friends.

Here’s another thing. Jenny and Albert were two sides of the same coin. So whatever Albert did, Jenny did. Whatever Jenny did, Albert did. In my relationship with Amber, it’s totally different. What I do is my business. What I do with my friends is my business. What Amber does with her friends, is her business. Sometimes, we might meet together with each others’ friends, but we will never be together all or most of the damn time.

For example, Patrick and Amber are considered friends. However, Patrick will never bring up the celebration of her birthday. Why would he? That’s ‘my’ job. If one day, out of the blue, Patrick wants to celebrate Amber’s birthday, she might be grateful, but no one expects Patrick to do it. However, Albert and Jenny would. To me, as I said in a different blog entry, while at one time, I loved Jenny as my sister, she was still Albert’s partner. So in my eyes, there was no reason to celebrate her birthday initiated by me. In this scenario, it should have been Albert who initiated it, then invited us to it. Just as I would never expect Albert to initiate the celebration of Amber’s birthday, because that’s ‘my job’.

One thing that bothered me for all of these years, is Albert’s idea of being laid back. In his world view, he argued that if we were really laid back, then we wouldn’t defend ourselves. He mistook being laid back with being a doormat. How can one be so intelligent, yet be so ignorant at the same time? That’s rhetorical. Alas, intelligence is often times measured by how a person interprets the knowledge they have, rather than having that knowledge expand their abilities for interpretation.

In short, he looks inwards, rather than outwards. In his world view, if it doesn’t fit his rhetoric, then it’s illogical. Most of society is like this. Wisdom helps resolve this, by allowing that person to use past experiences to open up the situation at hand, then act accordingly, as to not repeat the same mistakes of that past. While that isn’t quite looking outwards, at the very least, it gives the opportunity for that person to expand their world view.

Mind you, from time to time, I fantasize a day where I am sitting at home and I hear something knock against my window. Peeking out, I see a man standing on the lawn below. It’s Albert. He’s wearing his cap, a t-shirt, and sweat pants with a silly grin on his face. I smile at him, then wave him over. I run over to the side door, open it up and we hug each other tightly. Then I invite him into my home, and we talk about old times, apologize for our own behaviours towards each other, and start anew. I know that will never happen, but at one time, Albert and I did throw tennis balls at each others’ bedroom windows late at night, just to hang out. I miss that version of Albert. Back then, I thought our friendship was going to go on forever.

As a side note, for those who understood the title of this entry, let me make the disclaimer that I do not remotely consider myself along the same wavelength as Sun Quan. I used Cao Cao and Sun Quan as remote representations of Albert and I, as their interpreted characterizations, rather than for their achievements.

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