I have been blessed to meet several kindred spirits. United by common backgrounds, interests, and perspectives, we have formed especially intimate bonds. Sophia was a kindred spirit I met in high school. She and I shared a passion for writing. Throughout senior year of high school, we wrote 10-page missives back and forth to one another, sharing our hopes, joys, anxieties and other matters of teenage angst. In college, I met Suriya, who
shared my passion for children. We volunteered at the same after school program in Trenton and eventually both went into education. After college, I was fortunate to meet Nikki, named after famed African American poet Nikki Giovanni. Both raised in low-income, urban communities, we went on to very privileged institutions of higher education, where our professors supported our love of research and interest in pursuing doctoral studies.
It was easy to get along with my kindred spirits. We had the same interests and views on life. We had similar experiences in childhood and knew how fortunate we were to attend elite universities.
But the world isn't just made up of my kindred spirits. There are tons of people across whose paths I have crossed—in school, at work and even among my family—with whom I don't share that same intimate bond. Getting along with people who are different from me, think differently than I do, or act differently has proven much more difficult that getting along with my kindred spirits, and my need to be right is a big part of the issue.
In college, I honed my debating skills in weekly, small discussion groups that were a part of most Princeton courses. In these precepts, students shared their opinions on the texts we were reading, and the discussions could get heated. I started off rather quiet as a freshman. Over time, I learned how to put together a persuasive argument and often wouldn’t let go until I had won.
Life isn’t a college discussion group, and you can’t “win” every discussion. In fact, the more I insist on being right, the more I alienate the person on the other side. Time and again, I have seen my desire to prove my way is the right way end in damaged relationships, sometimes with irreparable consequences.
An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends
The last time I saw my father was at my wedding (June 28, 2003). He walked me down the aisle, took pictures with me, and attended my reception. Afterwards, he returned to his home in Maryland, and I settled into a new house with my new family in Pennsylvania. We spoke on the phone every few weeks, as was our custom. Each time, I called to check on him, and he ended the conversation after a few minutes. One day, I decided I would wait to see how long it would take my dad to pick up the phone to call me instead of me calling him – that was ten years ago.
By the time I was ready to give up my little challenge, he had moved, and I didn’t have his new address or phone number. I, too, moved, and my phone number and address changed as well. Due to my stubbornness, I no longer had a way to contact my father.
I try hard not to think about my dad and rarely speak of him. But every year on Father’s Day, it’s hard to ignore the void that exists in my heart. I adored my dad as a child, and so many of my fondest childhood memories involve spending time at his little apartment in the Bronx, riding around in his sports car, or driving to North Carolina to spend the summer with my grandmother. But I as I aged, we had a harder time connecting emotionally. Eventually, I grew weary with the distance. Then, I snapped one day, and decided that I just wasn’t going to call him until he called me. That was one of the worst decisions I have ever made, and I live with its consequences each day.
Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.