Theresa O’Connor

Life, the Universe, and Everything (or, trying to deal with friends and hedgehogs of the past, present, and future.)

This will probably turn out to be quite long, so bear with me on this one. :)

Part I: An Explanation

So, being the good sysadmin that I am, I was vgrep’ing my web server logs today for interesting referrals. I noticed that both Hawver’s page and my own had been referred to from http://www.angelfire.com/ma/tobi6/links.html. Given the URL, I wagered a guess as to the identity of the site’s persona, and sure enough, the referrals were coming from who I suspected: Stacy Thayer.

So I checked her site out.

Given that some of you may not know who Stacy is and why I should care, I suppose I should give some variety of very brief yet sufficient explanation. Basically, Stacy and I used to hang out a lot in high school. Specifically, my sophomore (her junior) year. We had (and, to some extent, still have) a lot of friends in common too.

Anyway, reading Stacy’s narrative of her high school years really sent me for a loop, insofar as it brought back a lot of memories and feelings from the time. I started to reflect on friendships and days past, on friendships and days present, and what lies in store for me in the future. As you have probably guessed by this point, this is what I’ll be blabbing about below.

Part II: “Rush”

He has achieved success who has worked well, laughed often, and loved much.

— Elbert Hubbard

I’ve had an interesting and varied life. Many people have come and gone, for better or for worse, and many things have happened, for good or for bad. But overall, things get better over time. I learn and grow, from my mistakes and otherwise. I achieve my smaller goals and get closer to achieving my bigger goals.

Some friendships get closer and deeper and some flounder. Often, friendships flounder for no particularly good reason. You just drift away from each other. Other times, friendships end abruptly and with animosity. But overall, I think I’ve been friends with a lot of interesting people over the years, and am glad that this has been the case.

If I had my time again
I would do it all the same
And not change a single thing
Even when I was to blame
For the heartache and the pain
That I caused throughout my years
How I love to be a man
Through the laughter and the tears

Big Audio Dynamite II, “Rush”

I think that, if you’ve ever cared for someone in the past to any significant degree, you have a connection with that person. I don’t know if it’s necessary, but I suppose I should clarify that I don’t mean that there’s some kind of supernatural or other such nonsensical connection. At minimum, your experiences involving that person have affected who you are to some extent. In many cases, I can think of people that have had a large impact on my current character, whether or not I realized it at the time.

I’ve drifted away from a lot of people that I was friendly with in the past. Here is a sort of personal message to those whom I once knew well:

Hi!

I’d like to say something to you, and you may or may not care or want to hear it. But that’s OK, because I’m primarily saying this for myself.

For some time during my life, we had some variety of relationship, be it a friendship or otherwise. For some reason, this relationship has gone by the wayside.

I’d like to try to describe the feelings that I have for you. Here it goes:

Depending on who you are, my present feelings for you may lie anywhere on a broad spectrum of feelings. But I almost universally have a benevolent, “I wish you the best in your future life” sort of feeling toward those that I am no longer close to. Like Luke, I think there’s good in you, and that you can have a good life if you really want it. Go for it! Perhaps our paths will cross again sometime.

Hrumpf. That’s not quite what I want to say. It sounds unnecessarily (and, I might add, unintentionally) condescending. What I’m trying to say is that, while we may have drifted apart, I hope you find happiness in your life.

MUHAHAHAHA! My joy will penatrate your jaded soul!

Jasmine Azure

This brings to mind another verse of the BAD song quoted above:

And of all my friends
You’ve been the best to me
Soon will be the day
When I repay you handsomely
Broken hearts are hard to mend
I know I’ve had my share
But life just carries on
Even when I’m not there

and the chorus of “Rain” (alternately known as “Better ’n You”) by the Blake Babies:

You could waste your life feeling lonely
Or you could waste your life feeling pain
When you carry the weight of one too many yesterdays
You will know to come in from the rain

Part III: The Hedgehog’s Dilemna

All of this contemplation of the past and my relationships therein have got my brain thinking about present and future relationships, and the obstacles that may hinder the development and growth of relationships.

An obstacle that immediately comes to mind is that which was so brilliantly illustrated by Hideaki Anno in Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Hedgehog’s Dilemna. Essentially, this is the (apparent) inverse relationship between closeness and pain. For hedgehogs to get closer to one another, they have to endure more and more pain.

I say it is foolish to like pain. But even ecstasy makes my heart hurt. A different pain than that which comes with the blood. A pain of knowing there is a time that I am without her. A pain of knowing the possibility exists… a… a pain of knowing I can be rejected.

— Shinji, from Eva-R #52 (shamelessly ganked from Curtis’s quotes file)

I think I have hedgehog issues more often than I’d like to admit. In fact, I know I have hedgehog issues. I have trouble dealing with the opening stages of a new friendship and/or relationship. I think this is mainly due to my fear of pain / failure / rejection.

I’m not going to refute this dilemna, because Nathaniel Branden already has. :) Here you go:

Let yourself know and fully experience how important love is and honor that importance in your actions. Don’t ever be careless with love. Be aware of the preciousness of each moment of your existence. Be aware that none of us is immortal — the clock is always ticking and none of us knows how long any of us has got. The time to let that other person experience how loved and valued he or she is by us, is right now. It’s one thing to love — and quite another to have the wisdom and courage to live that love fully, unreservedly, and to the hilt. Fully to surrender to love can be terrifying, but it’s the price life asks of us in exchange for the possibility of ecstasy.

Now, of course, is the tough part: living up to that paragraph. Not letting the fear stand in the way of greatness. Conquering it. Telling it to “get the hell out of my way!” I’m part of the way there. I think I’m better at this sort of thing than I have been. For instance, I think I had hedgehog issues when initially getting to know Jasmine, and I backed off for a while. But recently I’ve gotten to know her better and feel much more comfortable communicating with her. The challenge and the fun is in trying to constantly improve this ability to overcome the fear of messing things up. If you don’t go for anything, you won’t get anything. GIGO.

Part IV: Miscellaneous Musings

This section was originally intended to be my 02/07/2000 reflection, but that didn’t happen for various reasons. I’ve changed this a bunch since then. Note that the content down here is significantly less serious than the content above.

First Up: Electricity

Electricity is really cool. I mean, sit back and think about it for a second. Wow. Our lives are incomparably better than they would have been had electricity not come into common use.

While I’m on the subject of electricity, I should say that I’m happy I didn’t shock myself Sunday night when I fired up two of my NeXT’s, which lead to half of my dorm room going kaput. My laptop has a higher uptime than my desktop now! Oh, the humanity!

Round Two: Music & Books. FIGHT! *ding*

When I was a sophomore in high school, my English teacher at the time (Geraldine Kasmouski, for the curious) told our class a maxim that she had followed for years. She said, “whenever I read a book and love it, I go and devour everything else that the author had ever written. Chances are good that, if you really like one work by someone, you’ll like their other works.” I’ve always thought that this was sound advice, and have attempted to follow through on that (to my wallet’s detriment). I generally follow the same strategy when it comes to purchasing music: if I identify with what I’ve heard of an artist, I try to gobble up everything else that the artist has had a hand in. More often than not this is worth it.

If this seems like too random of a thing for me to bring up untriggered, you’re right. If you know what triggered this (which, theoretically, one of you does), <immature>so there! thbbpthtpt!</immature>

Third Time’s a Charm: Programming Language Bigotry

For the record, all programming languages are terrible, with the exception of Common Lisp. There, I’ve said it. That felt great.

Four: Stupid Patent Tricks

This is completely absurd.