Monday, October 26, 2009


Please give your attention to your inner flight attendant to review emergency relationship procedures. In the unlikely event of a water landing, be aware that good communication is your only floatation device.

You have chosen many of your relationships and many you were just born or happened into. However you got to them, there you are. If you are older than six, you probably have some relationships behind you that ended miserably. Perhaps they haven't ended, but they remain miserable. You can't get hurt or hurt anyone with whom you don't have a relationship. Your relationships define your life in many respects.

Sometimes you get into a relationship with someone who is just so ding dang perfect you can't believe your luck at finding this absolutely flawless friend/lover/co-worker/therapist/plumber/bartender/whatever. You're both Leos, you both have three older siblings, your mother and his mother are both mothers, you went to different schools together. You know. . . .you were made for each other.

And then, something happens and you realize that your perfect partner/buddy/teammate/roommate/whatever is becoming less and less perfect as time goes by. What do you do? Do you jump and pull the ripcord? Do you open the door and push? Do you sit in silence and reach for your airsick bag? Where is that floatation device?

If you go into a relationship - any relationship - in which the participants have different expectations of how long the flight will last and where it will land, there is going to be turbulence and possibly a crash. Possibly a firey, terrifying, deadly destructive crash. If you are both/all going to be friends when you get there, you'd better share a common flight plan.

The bottom line is we all have assumptions about how life is and we don't always share those assumptions with the people who are travelling this life with us. The only way to share them is to figure out what your assumptions are and communicate them to those with whom you have relationships. You know what happens when we assume, right? (we make and ass out of u and me. )

For example, when two lovers talk about their shared dreams, it's imperative to discover what each means by dream. If one defines dream as a plan for his life and the other defines dream as something that's nice to think about, but not grounded in reality; someone is going to get hurt. Probably two people will be hurt. Yet each assumes that the other's definition matches his own.

You can't win a relay race when one of the runners is heading in a direction different from the others or if one of the runners suddenly stops because she can't decide if she really wants that blue ribbon. That's why organizations need to review and restate their mission statements, goals, and projections. I've seen organizations get all excited about an addition, event, or expansion with so much energy that I thought there was no way it could fail. Yet the new idea failed because it didn't relate to the mission. It was a tangent.

Don't get me wrong, not all tangents are bad. They are the basis of adventure. They are the Road Less Travelled. Wondrous, beautiful, vibrant. But when you take a trek down the road less travelled, know that way leads on to way and you are likely not going to get back to your original route. It's ok if you are aware of what you are doing, but you can't always expect your fellow travellers to feel the same way about that particular road.

We all carry our assumptions like skin cells. We feel comfortable in them. They usually change so slowly that we don't even notice it, though sometimes we have an accident and a bunch of them get painfully torn off at once. We can't avoid all communication accidents, but we can steer clear of a great many of them just by sharing our assumptions. It's always better to check them out than risk a crash.

Some people tend to fly high with no flight plan, working instruments, or even a seatbelt. They tend to die young (in terms of relationships.) Alternately, some people choose never to fly and remain safe, boring, and going no where. And while I'm usually not one for moderation, there is a happy medium. Relationships can be strengthened and sometimes even mended with communication about assumptions.


  1. and fun, i forgot to say fun.

    Wise and fun and the kind of thing fitting for a lighthearted but direct and useful guide to life.

  2. Thank you, Tao for encouragement and kindness.