We are destined NOT to understand each other. At least not at the right time.
We can try to do that. And we should.
But the only way to fully understand another person is to stand exactly where they are, wearing the same shoes as they are, having the same experience that informs today’s emotion and decision…
Or to put it simply: being them.
So that’s hopeless. Because it’s impossible.
Now I’m a mother myself. Suddenly I can understand my own mother to an extent that I didn’t think was possible.
I used to think my mother might have hated me when I was growing up. Because she forbade me to do so many things that were allowed by my friends’ parents.
“It’s for your own sake,” She used to say, “you will understand me in the future when you become a mother yourself.”
I didn’t believe her. And I didn’t even consider it could be true.
I thought, adults just say the most random things to get me to do whatever they want me to do.
Today I do understand my mother from 20 years ago. She was worried. She had fear. She had fear because of the unknown.
Unknown for her was the scariest thing. She didn’t want something for me that was unknown to her.
Yet understanding my mother doesn’t mean that I would do the same to my own child.
I would try to understand my own fear, and not let my fear dictate the freedom of experience for my own child. I might not do a better job. But I will try.
It was hard for a child to believe the rejections of requests she got from her own mother was out of love.
The truth of that love is what I can fully understand today, standing at where my mother was standing, living as a mother myself.
There is a gap between each of us with others in this world. A gap that makes complete understanding impossible.
Even if we go around mountains, following another person’s footsteps, and eventually getting to stand where they are, they might have left a while ago.
You can still see what they have seen, feel they have felt. Then you can really understand them.
But what to do with that view, those feelings and emotions becomes your own decision.
That’s what understanding each other really means — not to close the gap, because it’s impossible; but to see from where they’ve made their decisions, so that you can better make yours.