Healthy disagreement is an essential ingredient in my life.
I can take this too far. I often do. I give my best friends s about their idiosyncrasies. I push buttons. I incite anger and annoyance. My methods aren't in line with everyone else's. But I do truly crave the same understanding that seems so elusive for all of us.
The Yogger is one of my better friends precisely because he and I can have healthy disagreement without getting butt hurt. I seek that from people, especially those closest to me and as a result I'm not terribly compatible with emotionally sensitive people. My personal hell is a place where everyone agrees with me. I find no fault with those who prefer to surround themselves with like minded individuals, as I'm certainly in tune with how important and necessary a support system is. I need that too. But I do feel that my own personal change and growth stems from my interactions with those who challenge me to think differently or at least to justify my perspective.
One specific topic of continual discussion with the Yogger is commitment. Not from the standpoint of "Hey, Yogger, are you really committed to running 100 miles in 4 weeks?" Or "How bad do you want 2 hours to the river?" Those discussions take place too. But the commitment I'm talking about boils down to the word marriage, or the concept of a contract (verbal or written doesn't really matter) to spend forever together. I believe this contract, and working through the challenges associated with it to build something with one other person is one of the most important and relevant aspects of human existence. I consider it the focal point of a life.
The Yogger feels differently, though I'm going to tread lightly on this because I don't want to put words in his mouth or make him seem any less of the man that he is. He is one of those walk-the-walk types even if he refuses to talk-the-talk. I admire that. Meanwhile I disagree with him on the philosophical concepts of the contract.
I like that he keeps me on my toes. I can't just hide behind marriage as a concept, based in religion, that society in general seems to accept despite the obvious realities about how difficult it is to sustain. The Yogger seems to be very understanding and accepting of human nature, of how flawed we truly are. He embraces his own flaws in a way I cannot, I tend to despise my limitations. I am sure his approach about that is far healthier, but at the same time I have vigorous feelings about the importance of making a commitment and living it through no matter what. At 37 I no longer believe these feelings are naive.
I do mean that. I believe in no-matter-what. I believe in no-excuses.
There are a few others who feel this way. I'll mention skinnyrunner as an example, since I believe she is someone who put a lot of thought into her selection of a life partner and based that decision on the concept of forever. Something she mentioned to me on our night run at Ragnar still sticks, it was a string of thoughts about how our bodies can fail, running may not always be accessible to us, and that a deeper faith and shared bond between two people can endure all sorts of changes, especially the ones we can't predict. I think of my father who cared for my sick mother for 5 years, providing for her and supporting her as her body feel apart and eventually took her away from us. This concept, this level of commitment, seems to be ever-evaporating.
I find it hard to not take sides when friends break up. I find it hard to support anyone who makes a bad decision, leaving someone they committed themselves to for someone else, or perhaps for nobody at all. I judge and I know this is wrong, but I consider it more human than cheating, more human than quitting. We all judge. We all make mistakes. We can all choose if we want to make the best of what we have, of what we've agreed to, or if we want to run away and start over. I know I am unnecessarily harsh about quitting. You can read that in my DNF post. Much of that sits on my shoulders. But part of it is a reaction to a world where there seems to be no value placed on loyalty, reliability, commitment, finishing. Part of my abhorrence of quitting is precisely because I see so many who are unwilling to approach anything with the intention of seeing it through until the end.
A perfect example of all of this is my dog, Hunter. He gives me life lessons every day. I adopted him over a decade ago, after a family took him home as a puppy and gave him back 2 years later. I consider that unthinkable. I knew when I adopted Hunter that I would be with him until his or my last day on earth. I feel the same about marriage, if I ever propose again, it would be with the intention of living together until life ceases. It sounds scary and I think it is. But that's what it means to me.
Most people don't want that. Most people are OK with drifting apart and moving on. Most people think it is very human to mix things up, to change direction and to break a commitment. I can be friends with most people even though I disagree with them.
I'm not like most people.