Leaving Well Enough Alone

A phrase popped into my head today, one I associate with my parents, particularly my father, and my childhood: “Can’t you leave well enough alone?” I never really thought about what the words mean. I guess literally they say, “You’ve got something good, don’t mess it up by trying to make it better.” But for my parents, I think the phrase usually meant, “You should have kept your grubby paws off of whatever it was you just broke, or not done that thing that just screwed up something else that now I have to fix.”

Visiting Block Island, another favorite place...

Visiting Block Island, another favorite place…

That phrase from my youth has been in a mind a bit this week as I reflected on my recent trip back to CT. You can go home again, of course, but odds are it’s just not going to be how you would like it to be. (Impermanence rears its inevitable head, eh Gautama B?) Things change, sometimes by our own actions, sometimes despite them. Some of the changes I experienced: People grow old. Objects deteriorate. Your hometown expands in ways you might not like. Sick friends seem a bit sicker than when you last saw them. And relationships with people close to you invariably alter.

was also part of this Northeast swing

was also part of this Northeast swing.

It was relationships I was thinking about, mostly, this week. I saw people I had not seen in ages. Some now newly married or about to be, some in new jobs or homes. Some seemingly happy to see me after so long. One who felt the need to call me a shit. Ah, life.

Then there was one person from the past whom I saw for only the second time in several years, after a long and sometimes challenging relationship. We reconnected a few months ago, which I wrote about here. The reconnection has not always been easy for either of us, but especially for me. And after this visit, I wondered how deeply it should continue–should, for my sake, because as much as there has been laughter and feelings that needed to be expressed, there has been pain too. Maybe the distance we had before served a purpose. Maybe I should have left well enough alone.

So was a trip to Fenway (they lost).

So was a trip to Fenway (they lost).

But I can’t take back the rapprochement and wouldn’t if I could. Trotting out a cliche, things happen for a reason. So I accept that the positives that have come out of the last six months were truly good and necessary. And some good could still come from this thing of ours (I hesitate to call it a friendship but never really know what to call it). But contemplating the sadness that filled me this week, I know the connection will once again take a different shape.

Connection: I’ve often said my plays are about connection, characters trying to find meaning in their lives by reaching out to others or else dealing with the pain of connections broken. We all experience that; maybe I just dwell upon it more than most, especially now when I’m without a significant other, physically distant from my closest friends and my family, and struggling, still, to have the sense of community I would like to feel in this place I love. Because natural beauty and culture and history and all the other things I love about Santa Fe, as great as they are, can’t replace human connection.

The day after I saw my renewed friend, I had this experience (those of you who read my Facebook posts have already seen this): I was getting into my car at the local CVS tonight when I saw a mother and her daughter approaching the store. The girl was about 11-12 and was obviously crying. She was holding her mother’s hand. The mother, it seemed, was trying to distract her: “Remember when we came here and…” The playwright in me imagined all sorts of back stories to this moment in time–until the two stopped, and the child hugged the mother. Intensely. Or perhaps it was the other way around. And I thought about all the times I wanted the hug of a loved one to make me feel better, and the healing power of that contact. And the times I actually got it, and the ones when I didn’t. Writing a play about the moment seemed less important. But s few people have encouraged me to try, and  perhaps I will.

The next two days, on several occasions, I broke into spontaneous tears. Was it because of what I witnessed at the CVS and the thoughts it stirred? Because I felt so lonely even as I spent time with loved ones on my trip back home? Because I wanted to have a hug whenever I needed it and knew that was impossible, at least for now? Because I knew the relationship revived over the last few months could never give me what I wanted and was bound to change again?

Yes.

Now, back home, I’ve returned to my routines and taken some comfort in them. A friend is coming to visit me for the holiday weekend, and while I might not get hugs, I will get connection. Things will change with my renewed friend back in CT, because that’s what things do, and sometimes it’s for the best. OK, sometimes we should leave well enough alone. But maybe at times we know in our gut that the well enough isn’t really right. It isn’t well at all. I’m just trying to figure out which is which, and not break the good things with my grubby paws.

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~ by mburgan on June 27, 2015.

2 Responses to “Leaving Well Enough Alone”

  1. Thank you, Michael. Enjoying your posts.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting. They have been few and far between of late, but I hope to rectify that here and at my other blog.

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