Dependent Existences

Dec 4, 2013 by

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive,
and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

– Anaïs Nin


          On Saturday night, after being quoted a one-hour wait for a table at Lucali (best pizza and calzone of my life thus far, by the way!), Olivia and I found ourselves in the midst of Brooklyn in search of shelter from the chill. Directed to a bar down the street, I walked in for a drink (water #poor) and I walked out deep in contemplation. In talking to our server, a friendly guy who has spent the last nine years travelling, conversation went from casual to philosophical.

          “It’s funny how relative everything is,” I commented in response to his near decade of travelling. “My family thinks that I travel a lot because they don’t travel at all, while people that have spent months or years abroad, like you, probably think that I’ve barely moved.”

          “It’s all about you, isn’t it?” he joked.

          I laughed. “It really is,” I agreed. “Isn’t that the case for everyone? Our own worlds revolve around ourselves.”

          “Yes, we’re egocentric,” he nodded as he pulled up a chair to sit down at our table.

          “Exactly!” I exclaimed. I find social psychological concepts, like egocentrism, incredibly interesting. I moved to the edge of my seat, placed my elbow on the table, and propped my chin up on my hand, eagerly waiting for him to continue his thought.

          “My girlfriend and I were debating about this. I told her that she wouldn’t exist without me. She argued that I was being egocentric. I was. We’re all egocentric. It’s true, though. She would not exist as she is around me without me, and I would not exist without her,” he explained.

          Mouth. Dropped.

          Mind. Blown.

          I have always believed that a person’s character is affected by other people. Interpersonal dynamics vary, impacting individual behaviour. However, I had never thought of this idea in terms of existence before. I reviewed the concept internally: They would not exist without each other. Exist. What an interesting word choice, I thought. To exist or to not exist implies permanency. To suggest that one’s existence depends on another’s seemed extreme; yet, it was a perfectly logical argument.

          I thought about who I am to Olivia as of late compared to who I am to everyone else. Olivia is the only person who does not get The Happiness Experiment version of me. While bubbly and upbeat around other people due to genuine happiness and love of life, I am usually irritable and bitter around Olivia due to years of built up resentment and anger toward her. I hate the person that I am with her, but I’ve been unable to get over a grudge that I’ve carried since our second year of university. As a result, I’ve spent the last few weeks seriously considering saying goodbye to my best friend. My rationale is that, if she’s the only person with whom I don’t like who I am, I won’t be that person at all without her in my life. Without Olivia, Maria as Olivia knows her – the ridiculously competitive, uncontrollably envious, overly prideful Maria that I despise – would not exist.

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