MAGFEST: 3-6 January, National Harbor, MD Katsucon: 15-17 February, National Harbor, MDBronyCon
: 2-4 August, Baltimore, Maryland
Accepted, going through payment process. Otakon
: 9-11 August, Baltimore, Maryland
Missed the AA boat...Anime USA
: 13-15 September, Washington, D.C.
Unsure. Artist Alley is now juried and I do not, have never and never will support a completely juried Artist Alley.
This past weekend wasn't the best. It could have been better, and in fact, I had hoped that this would be the case. I had few expectations, but, well, in some respects it did not even meet those. Don't get me wrong, there were some stellar parts of the weekend, but the events contained within about a 5-hour block of time on Saturday pretty much torpedoed the whole thing.
After sitting down and doing some thinking on the matter as well as speak to a couple of really good friends of mine as well as my roommates, I have decided that there are some folks that I just need to remove from my life and severely limit the interaction of some others. This is not a decision I have made lightly and it sure as hell wasn't a decision I even wanted to make…much less be put into the situation where such a decision had to be made in the first place. But at this point, unless something spectacularly awesome happens, the inevitable result will be that push coming to shove and in light of this, I'm stepping out of the ring.
A reasonable way of thinking about this whole thing is to think about it in a similar line as one would think about gardens and bullet (or knife) wounds. Despite the seemingly opposing concepts, they are rather fitting in their analogy. Seriously. Bear with me here and you'll see what I mean. I promise.On Gardens
Gardens take a lot of time, work and effort to build, grow and maintain. The most beautiful and/or fruitful of gardens does not simply appear out of nowhere. No. It takes a careful hand to plan, build and cultivate the garden. Everything from the location, soil and fertilizer to the decision of exactly what is to be grown needs to be taken into account before any planting can begin. Once the seeds are planted there is still more time, energy, effort and work that needs to go into the garden to make sure it grows well. This involves the use of water, fertilizer, weeding, pruning, removal of pests and the like. It's a LOT of work! But there is a payoff.
The payoff is that there is a beautiful and/or fruitful garden there to be enjoyed. Even if the garden is private and only meant for one person, this does not negate the fact that that person receives enjoyment from this labor of love. Even if it lasts for a few short months and the work needs to begin all over again, gardeners would argue that those two or three months of beauty and/or harvest is well worth the disproportionate effort and toil that went into building and maintaining it.
I find that friendships are very much like a garden.
Friendships are not formed in a vacuum. They do not suddenly manifest themselves out of nowhere and they certainly don't maintain themselves. One needs to put a lot of time, work and effort into building, maintaining and growing a friendship. Just like a garden.
And just like a garden, friendships are beautiful and /or fruitful. Of course these are more metaphysical, emotional and spiritual than physical, but they are no less nourishing and no less beautiful.
This brings me to the events of just this past weekend. There is a guy I know (whom I will refer to as Zack to protect the innocent). He and I have known each other since 2006 and he and I share a number of interests and (for better or worse) a lot of similarities to each other, up to and including our faults and shortcomings. Hell, in a lot of ways, looking at Zack is a LOT like looking in a mirror…and admittedly, I did not like a lot of the things I saw in that mirror, but I did not dismiss it outright and I accepted that reflection and, over time, used the things that I saw in it to actively improve myself.
I am not sure what happened between me and Zack over the past year or so. Maybe it was the fact that a mutual friend moved away and so the personal link of someone we had in common was removed. Maybe it's our age difference – Zack is in the neighborhood of being 10 years older than me. Maybe our shared interests are not so similar after all. Perhaps our similarities are far too much of a barrier between us to find any reconciliation. Maybe I have grown and changed as a person such that my interests now lie elsewhere…I mean, it's possible for people to grow apart from each other even if they remain in constant contact. I honestly don't know.
I won't go into the details and my thoughts on the events over the weekend here. I may go into them at a later time, but those thoughts are not the focus of this journal. What is the focus is the end result, and that result is the conscious decision I made to stop tending the garden.
I have decided that I have put enough time, effort, energy and work into trying to grow and foster our friendship but, well, it's just not going anywhere. On one hand, I know that some plants in a garden are very fragile, stubborn or otherwise require an additional layer of care and effort to go into them than others. I understand, appreciate and respect this. However, not every gardener has the desire to put that much work into a particular plant…or, alternatively, they may not find the results of cultivation that desirable. I mean, what is the point of putting in the work and effort of maintaining a particular fruit tree if you don't like the fruit and find the flowers mediocre at best?
In this particular case, my continuing friendship with Zack is just like that. While I will not do anything to harm, damage, destroy or remove what has been established, I also will not put forth any effort to improve things either. In my opinion, there is little point. I do not doubt that the results of continuing the work would be beneficial (I am sure that they would be!), but I honestly think that those benefits would not be worth the effort.
To keep with the analogy, I am sure that the fruits of the labor would be sweet… but not so sweet that I feel that I have to put up with feeling a certain way anymore. I am certain that the fruits would be quite delicious…but I can also get fruits that are just as delicious without putting anywhere near as much effort into cultivating them.
…could this be seen as giving up? Sure. But at the same time, when does a refusal to give up change from perseverance to being mindlessly stubborn and blind to the facts? Maybe I could put forth in a little more effort, maybe it needs that 'one more bit'… but how many more 'just one more bits' do I have to invest to see some progress?On Bullet/Stab Wounds
The funny thing about bullet wounds or stab wounds is that while the offending object is inside of us, it hurts and, possibly, slowly kills us. A knife cannot be left in the body, it will cause blood loss, infection or something worse…it must be removed. A bullet ideally should be removed, and should be left in the body only if removing it would cause more damage than leaving it…but even if it remains, the damage that it caused will always be felt. The pain never goes away and the wound never heals quite right.
This is how I felt in making my decision regarding Zack. This is not a decision that I like. This is not a decision that I wanted to make and I honestly feel terrible that I feel that I had to make this decision. If I could have done something to avoid the situation that this decision needed to be made, I would have gladly done it.
In many ways, I feel like it was trying to decide what to do about a bullet wound. I mean, the act of removing the bullet is very painful. It sucks and I am certain that it is a terrible process to go through (I wouldn't know…I've never been shot)…and to be quite honest, if it were possible to have done something to avoid having the bullet in me in the first place, I would have gladly done it.
Unfortunately, this is not the case…and if there was something that could have been done in the past, I think that perhaps that opportunity passed. I will share fifty percent of that burden because there was likely an opportunity and I either did not see it or I did not act upon it. But the same exact thing can be said of Zack too… hence why I am only taking fifty percent of the blame. No more. No less. On Reconciliation
When talking with one of my best friends on the matter, he issued a challenge to me. He told me that before any discussion, confrontation or anything else, I should forgive Zack. He was clear that it would be a very, VERY difficult thing to do because forgiveness is hard. But he also was clear that despite this difficulty, he was confident that I had the strength of character to do it. That I was a good enough person that despite all of the hurts and wrongs that I have had inflicted on me that I could find it in my heart to forgive him.
I know that while Zack may never read this, I know that my friend will. He may not have the time to go through all of my ramblings (and I don't expect him, or anyone else to), but if he gets this far, I want to be clear in stating that he is right.
I can forgive Zack. I can also accept him for who he is and understand that maybe the hurt and pain he has inflicted on me is not intentional on his part. I can accept that I may have also inflicted hurt and pain on Zack and that was certainly unintentional and that I am deeply apologetic for it. I can let go of the pain and the emotional baggage that I am carrying around. It isn't easy, and it will take time, but I know I can do this. Heck, I think that by even sitting down and writing this that I have started to take those first tentative steps at forgiveness. The grip on the heavy baggage is starting to slip. It's not there yet, but I have hope that I can just open my hands and let it go.
Unfortunately, I feel that even after forgiveness, after I have removed the emotional and spiritual burden that the damage that was done to me is too great. I cannot continue the friendship. I will not let myself be dragged backwards or held down. I can forgive, but I can't forget. I have extended my hand in offering only to be burned or rebuked in response.
I can and I will
forgive. But I will not extend my hand again.
I am sorry.
1) Undisclosed Customer - All 4 turtles from TMNT, Splinter, April and Casey JonesSir, I misplaced your contact information! Please, if you are watching this space, PLEASE drop me a note or an email! Thanks!