Meet Bob. Bob is a circle monkey. He’s someone who’ll run around a circle looking for an endpoint. Bob is not an actual monkey as much as someone who refuses to use his rational capacities thereby rendering him monkey-like. Bob is not a stranger as much as he is you and me.
Here’s a typical Bob relationship:
Bob thinks Sarah hates him. Bob hates Sarah for hating him for no reason. Sarah thinks Bob hates her. This is why she hates Bob.
Our first circles begin to form in school. It is this huge circle that freely admits people based on what they bring for lunch. The tastier the food, the more power you wield in the circle. The circle begins to disintegrate when one kid refuses to share food. The next day, the rejected kid brings tasty food and refuses to share his/her food.
The circle splits in two until one side refuses to share food with the other side. All because the other side refused to share food with this side. Each side thinks the other is full of selfish monkeys.
The number of circles increases as lunch is replaced by grades, coolness quotient, love interests and also how deeply you profess your love for a particular celebrity. There are now more circles with fewer pubescent humans.
The final stages of the circle life happen in college where enclosures are based on former schools, language, maturity, smoking preferences, the ones who met on Facebook before actually meeting, the quiet ones who eat a lot of curds, the boisterous ones who make fun of those who eat curd, the stoned, the music lovers, and the creepy one-person circles.
Every circle feels their circle is unique and that the other circles are loaded with a bunch of monkeys.
Most of these circles wane when the circle of circles takes over. The one circle to rule them all. The one with your precious,
The relationship circle.
Even before we begin, let me get this out-of-the-way. It is something every relationship expert will tell you using crummy verbiage such as responsibility, ego, unconditional love and all that. Here’s the blunt summary:
There is only one monkey in the relationship circle: You.
Your first introduction to the relationship circle happens outside it, as an emotionally tipsy observer of mom-dad arguments. You will see how mom and dad can never shut up at the same time and fall into this endless loop about something until one of them is tired or until you lose it – enter the circle and perform a weird dance – accompanied with loud noises.
You think how adults can be such monkeys and before you know, you are an adult with familial relationships of your own.
So, on a random Friday evening, she reminds you of how you behaved like a monkey on a random Saturday morning last month. You shrug – laugh your monkey laugh – and remind her that she was the unevolved that day, but that it’s okay now since it happened last month. You can help but end with a sarcastic apology.
She knows you don’t mean it.
Because now she’s throwing some emotional jackfruit at your face. You eat it up and bring out your own rocky responses. You blame her and she blames you and you tell her she blames you because you blame her and she says you always blame her, and you say she never appreciates you – and all of a sudden you are arguing about the semantic depths of the words always and never.
The jackfruit and rocks start to hurt eventually and you are both shouting, and now it’s about shouting and not shouting and shouting about not shouting.
And this is exactly what happened on that random Saturday morning.
Do you see the circle?
We don’t see these circles in school because there are always more circles. Heck, you can treat three friends to a banana milkshake and form your own chest-thumping circle. As you grow older, you realize that there are very few circles left.
Imagine a kid who goes to an amusement park, sits on a ride, throws up after, feels better, eats popcorn, goes back on the same ride to prove a point, throws up again, feels better, eats ice-cream, tries to prove a point again, throws up again and on and on. Dumb kid.
But, that’s exactly what we do: you, me, Bob, and Sarah. On and on we go in our circles with no one to show us that we are in a giant freaking amusement park with plenty of other ways to prove a point and still amuse oneself without throwing up all over ourselves.
I used the example of relationships not to dole out sage advice on relationships, but to remind each other of the obliviousness of the circle monkey behavior we indulge in repeatedly. We tell ourselves, life is short to be having these circuitous resentments and fights, but like that kid, after we throw up – we feel better – eat popcorn and go back on the ride anyway.
Life is a giant amusement park. Ride the rollercoaster together and hold onto each other on the way down. Hop on the train together and wave at people, even if you don’t know them. Drive each other crazy in 3000 little ways which include, but are not limited to splashing water on the face, singing a song loudly and badly, noisily slurping every sip of the drink, vanishing underwater and coming out from the other side as the other person screams for help.
Stop living in a circle; in the ride of a life where you are constantly throwing up on one another.