Up for the Challenge

I rewatched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind yesterday and it must’ve triggered something in me because I’ve been a bit internally irritable since then. I think it dredged up lingering feelings of frustration and resentment regarding relationships in general. How we as a whole squander the opportunity to grow through a relationship.

In relationships, we have someone to challenge us and reveal our hidden vulnerabilities, wounds, and blind spots. When we are confronted thanks to our provocative friend, we have a chance to examine ourselves truly and honestly in ways we wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s a gift being bestowed on us through the discomfort. They are shining a spotlight for us, a beacon in the dark. We’d be wise to take a closer look and consider that maybe there is room for self-improvement.

But what do we do instead? We get defensive, deny, attack, and avoid. We devalue the other. Or we agree to try to improve, but don’t follow through, or blame incompatibility. Of course, it could be incompatibility, but more frequently it’s a refusal or inability to improve character flaws. People use the excuse of…that’s the way they are and they can’t help it. People don’t even try, make excuses, and shift blame.

All of the divisiveness in the world right now, all the turmoil challenging us is giving us the same opportunity to grow. And it’s so frustrating trying to communicate with closed-minded defensive people. There’s a chance to work together to improve and heal, but people are resistant to listening, to accepting responsibility, to admit they may have flawed hurtful mindsets and behaviors. It takes a strong person to own up and work towards transformation. It takes courage to be vulnerable, to be open-hearted, to communicate, to listen respectfully and mindfully, to behave maturely and lovingly.

Until the problems are addressed and resolved there will be a repetition of the same difficulties because for things to change you have to do something different. People don’t like change though, maybe some people aren’t even capable of change, it sure seems that way. Maybe that’s why people tell you don’t expect people to change when forming new relationships. They advise you not to count on a person’s potential and to have no expectations.

I say then what’s the point of having a relationship if people aren’t going to grow and change because of them, progressing and improving together over time. What is life for then? Is it to stay the same, never grow, stay in one place, and focus on survival. The attitude… I am the way I am, take it, or leave it. The mentality of…the world is the way it is, suck it up and take it, we can do whatever we want, too bad if it’s hurting you.

Life is so fleeting, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind captured that exquisitely. We keep meeting our true selves through others. They are gifts to us, yet we are not receptive and life flits away one missed opportunity after another. It’s not our problem we say and we run away. The problem finds us again and again until we face it and fix it.

Challenging relationships help us grow especially if we accept responsibility equally and honor one another by listening, collaborating, and cooperating as a team. It’s often messy, but sometimes things need to be deconstructed and rebuilt in order to make it whole again.

In the movie, Joel and Clementine had the chance to try again, just like we as a whole have a chance to try again every day. Are we gonna listen? Are we gonna examine, question, and then educate ourselves? Are we gonna be mature, respectful, responsible, caring, and loving? Are we gonna honor ourselves and others equally? How can we do things differently so we don’t have to keep revisiting the same issues?

Okay, I’m feeling a little less irritable, lol. I want to watch that movie again and maybe I’ll discover why it got to me so much? Maybe it was the sliver of hope at the ending. How we persevere in spite of it all. Maybe this time it’ll work.

Michelle Miyagi
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