We have an aphorism: familiarity breeds contempt. It has always felt somewhat cynical and pessimistic to me. It suggests that the more I get to know about something or somebody, the more faults I find, to the point where I lose respect for them or it.
I understand that one way we can interpret this is that it is easy to take for granted the thoughtfulness of those close to you, the comfort of being with people you know well, the everyday habits that you know how to work with.
And it is important to remind ourselves to appreciate and value these things, however familiar they may be. There is no guarantee that they will always be there, and our conscious appreciation is a way of affirming their importance in making our lives easier and more enjoyable.
To me, though, familiarity breeds three other underlying emotions that have tremendous value in our lives.
The first of these is trust. We get to know that there are aspects of our relationship that we can rely on and that stay no matter what. With a person, this may be knowing that they won’t betray a confidence, or that they’ll bounce us out of a bad mood.
The second of these emotions is comfort. We can settle back into the relationship, even after a space away, knowing how it will be, finding it easy, not having to make a great effort, accepting them as they accept us.
And the third one is affection. When we are familiar with someone, we are fond of them as a whole person, their mixture of characteristics, and even the thought of them makes us smile.
These are all important foundations which provide the basis from which we can move out to the unfamiliar, and thereby perhaps bring even more opportunities for appreciation, trust, comfort and affection – how lovely is that!!
Thank you my friends for being my familiars!!