Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Food-Medicine Theory

I think for a living. Which means that I continue to think sometimes even when I am not making a living. In this complex web of thought processes, I came up with a gem of a theory one day that answered many unexplained questions I have had in the past about relationships. Not just intimate relationships or romantic relationships, but relationships. Friends, neighbors, colleagues, basically any human interaction I have had. I call this the “food-medicine theory”.

Relationships are based on need. The need to get, and sometimes, the need to give. Most relationships are either like food, or like medicine. Let’s see how.  

Some people are like food in your life. You need food everyday for sustenance. That’s a universal truth. Nutritive, life-giving food, hopefully in moderation. But routine is the key. Sure, you could fast for a day or two. But barring that, you need food. Every day.

Now once in a while, you eat bad food, and have food poisoning. You stay away from that food. What comes in handy is a medicine. Something strong, that has a more localized effect to cure you off the ill effects of food. You may continue to take it for a while. But eventually, when you are cured, you stop taking it, and go back to eating normally. 

Human relationships are just like that. Some people are food. They are just a part of your being. You do not question their need or their existence. You just need them to stay strong, healthy, and functioning. You can perform the most mundane of things as long as you have them around. And they are here, to stay in your life.

But then, other human relationships are like medicines. They have a role, and a very important and specific one to play. They come in handy only when there is a crisis. A medicine is not something you open your eyes and look forward to having on a normal day. It is effective for sure. But it is temporary. Evanescent.

Both food and medicine are important. Neither one nor the other is superior, and there is no judgment on the value one brings to the table. One can be food to some, and medicine to others. That is totally okay.

However, confusion and heartbreaks happen when you mistake one for the other. I have been medicine to many, and many have been medicine to me. Yet mistaking myself as food has caused heartbreaks so many times. In any given relationship, it is so important to know whether one is the food or the medicine, and own up to that. Whether one is serving a temporary need, or is here to stay. That helps you to step away at the right time. You do not want to be hanging around when you are no longer needed.

I know that you need me, and I am happy to be around. But you did not always need me. You started needing me to get over a bad past. A trauma. An accident. An illness. I know that the day you heal and recover, you will not need me anymore. I might still be around, like a vial tucked away in some corner of the medicine cabinet for future use. But I will not be needed all the time.

The day I realized this, so many inexplicable things started making sense to me. Why did someone get so close so soon? And why someone took off and never reported? Why was everyone being treated differently at work? I have seen people completely fall out of love, and the same has happened to me (I am not talking of just romantic love). Perhaps they were, or I was the medicine. I had an important, but only temporary role to play. Once things went back to being normal, the medicine was no longer needed.

Of course every theory has its flaws, no theory is perfect. Sure, you can refute it and find many loopholes in what I just said. But if you can look beyond the flaws, you might see some value in what I just said. I hope that you have read one of these famous quotes in statistics, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” My theory might be wrong. But I hope that it is useful.


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