Tuesday, November 23, 2010
It Should Have Been the First Sign
“So what is it about the Farmer’s Market that you like so much?”, he asked when we first met. That should have been my first clue that I would find it difficult to find a common ground with this person. As I went on and on, trying to describe the pure joy I get when I see a pile of just-pulled-from-the-ground rainbow carrots, or the inspiration I am suddenly struck with upon encountering curly kale, or the impossible-to-resist urge to try a white pomegranate, I was greeted with an interested but blank response. “Tell me more. Take me there. Introduce me.” Several dates later when I served a meal, an act which I think of as a gift I love to share, there was no squealing with delight over the golden beets or noticing the way the pomegranate juice was coloring the leaves in the salad. And the conversation returned to something far less textured than the meal before us.
It was at that moment that I had an aha moment about relationships, about the give and take, the learning and teaching, and just how much of that I want and am willing to provide in a relationship. I love learning about new things, and am a willing student. I love sharing what I know, and am a willing teacher. But it was at that moment that I knew I was trying to create a bridge across a chasm to a place I did not want to go.
Sometimes this happens in the workplace. Long ago I learned that I wanted to be surrounded by people who give as much as they take, by people who bring thoughts, suggestions and action rather than by people who want me to do all the leading. For a few moments it can feel good to be the exalted leader, but really it is the reciprocal engagement that makes successful teamwork, even and often when that engagement is with people of wildly differing opinions or approaches. And that when I am having to work too hard to find a meeting place, chances are the work relationship and true teamwork is never going to click.
Obviously this is true in personal relationships, including the one I was most recently exploring with a man who, although charming, was not a good fit for me as a partner. While I don’t have a requirement that a partner be a fellow “foodie”, I realize how incredibly important it is to be able to share my own passions and have a partner tune into them, even if it’s an experience we've not yet shared. Chalk another one up to experience, and pardon me while I go back to the market!