Artist’s Lane: Land the plane and don’t lose sleep

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By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

Have you ever been so excited about something that you felt like you were flying? When it seems like the more you process a conversation, the more wind you get under your wings? 

This happened the other night while talking to a friend, someone who reminds me of me. While we are different in so many ways, when it comes to how we handle life in general, we frequently mirror each other’s actions and reactions. 

Everyone should have a friend like mine. Her quirkiness is as delightful as her mind is sound. With a resolve for life that is infectious, it is easy to be vicarious in understanding myself: the good and the annoying. 

My friend is the type who enjoys researching various topics. It is a safe bet that if there is a question to be had, she will find an answer. 

But, the process of learning can fill us to overflowing. For so many of us, we feel compelled to share those things that propel us, whether or not others are up for the ride. 

On the particular day that my friend called, she was looking for answers. Her head was spinning all over the map as if she had become out of sync with the world. 

I heard an exhausted voice say, “What’s wrong with me?”

The night before, my friend taught a Bible lesson about the Nicolaitans. I guess I didn’t respond in the way she expected; either that or she didn’t feel like her point was made. 

She stayed up most of that night typing a two-page, single-spaced scripture reference explanation on the Nicolaitans in Revelation. 

I received her document in an email the next morning. Although it was unexpected, it’s not out of the norm. I receive dissertations on many topics from a host of teachers all the time. 

But again, I had failed to react or respond in a way that conveyed I had understood the point that was being made. 

Wondering if I was on board, my friend called as if making a flyover.

“I read your email” I said, “And even found it interesting.” 

I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but didn’t feel the topic or the document was anything to lose sleep over. 

I had to laugh with her while on the phone. How many times have I raced to put my thoughts out in front, only to get frustrated by a lack of reception? Thankfully, people have indulged me for years.

My friend and I share a need for cognition. We both go to great lengths to understand things, even finding the process enjoyable. Unfortunately, that personality trait shares a common platform. We don’t always understand the self-efficacy of others. 

She is at least 20 years younger than I am. Since I’ve been there and done that, I wanted to share with her, lessons from my own life’s travel. As if from any starting gate, I know to push-back with care. 

The most thoughtful response can steer a person off course. Pity will only create turbulence in a relationship, and misguided encouragement can cause one to overshoot the runway. 

I’ve learned the depth of my study isn’t for everyone. In fact, I have chosen to be selective with whom I share my deepest and most exhaustive learnings. Why? Because, just like a garbled message over a loud speaker it can be misunderstood, or even too inaudible to have any value. 

Final brushstroke: It’s important that we know what’s on each other’s radar. It’s not, however, important that we land each other’s plane. My best advice: buckle up, then wheels up. Otherwise, the only bags you will be collecting once you land are the ones under your eyes. 

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