Like A Good Neighbor
(Sings Back in the day when I was young I’m not kid anymore….)
In my early 20’s I worked in the insurance industry. I was property, casualty, life and health licensed, certified, & feeling myself. I was fresh out of college and didn’t know virtually anything on the subject. While studying for my “P&C” test, I ran across the concept of a “total loss.” This concept seemed odd to me. Like I mean the car is still right there, it is not lost, so why are we processing paperwork like it’s at the bottom of the sea somewhere?
I would come to learn that insurance is based on risk. Your insurability is based the likelihood you will cost the company money. See, they take into account that all clients have the possibility to cost them something. But have an accident outside of that pre -calculated range?… they will cancel you and send you on your way. (That is a word in itself).Later, I would go on to process my 1st claim resulting in “total loss.” The young lady came into the office to discuss her next steps and options. She came in with the expectation that her car would be fixable…and by all accounts it was. When I presented her with the information that the company had deemed it a total loss, she was confused. I had to explain to her the procedure was for such a thing. When damage occurs, the company’s first course of action is to reference the Kelly Blue Book. They do this to ascertain the value of that car based on year, make, model, mileage, condition, and resale value. Value. This is a word with various meanings however, this is my favorite.
val·ue (noun)The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.
The car itself was indeed fixable. Yet, that was not the most important factor in the equation. The most important factor was value. Therefore, based on what it would cost the company to fix the car in comparison to its value…it simply was not a smart investment.
Time, and the essence of it is crucial. It is the difference between late and on time, in compliance and out of order, being received warmly or with a chill. Not just in an exact sense like having to be at work by 8:00am, but in a broader sense like seasons. When I think of how crucial timing is, I think of stand up comedy. A joke told too soon or too late has the same result – it flops. Regardless of intent, poor timing often yields poor results.
But timing in relationships is much more subtle. It is not something that just falls upon us, its is not as precise and an hour on the clock, it is a gradual shift. I look at this in the same way I am aware of the seasons change. I do not wake up one morning and it’s winter and then the next summer. This change happens slowly…one degree, one fallen leaf, and one breeze at a time. Failure to notice this day to day shift will have you in the streets looking crazy like that kid from high school that would wear a full coat in August. (who I’m almost sure is definitely a serial killer now).
An avid reader, one of my favorite relational books is “The People Factor” by Van Moody. In it, he goes into great detail about the significance of relational timing. He uses the analogy of drinking milk ( for my health people just pretend its almond milk for the sake of the argument). He says that milk when we first buy it is amazing. It is refreshing, nutritious, and fulfilling. But drink that same milk a few days past the expiration date and it will turn you inside out. The very thing that was once good for you will make you sick.
There Was A Time
Now what does all of this have to do with an insurance claim? Let me tie it together. The young lady’s car was not always in that state. There was a time when it was brand new, reliable, efficient, and was a solid means on transportation. But over time, that same car withstood wear, tear, loss of aesthetic, and depreciation. There was a time. Yet, in its current state it was deemed a total loss to the other party involved. It was a smarter investment to release a check towards the purchase of a new vehicle, than to repair the existing one. But how often do we do the same? How often do we keep and active and realistic pulse on our connections? Someone could have very well been your “person” (where my Grays anatomy fans at?) at one point, in one season…but are they still? Does the association still uplift, strengthen, and provide sustenance for you? Or like the milk has it gone sour and now leave you emotionally sick to your stomach?
Now understand me well, I am not saying that people are disposable or that as soon as the honeymoon phase is over to trade them in. What I am saying, knowing the value of all things at all times is important. Just like the insurance company, your time an emotions are an investment, and a valuable one. I could stop any investor on the street right now and they could tell me what their investments were trading at. They could tell me if they were going to sell, or because of the reliability of the stock they were going to stick it out. But we will stay in friendship, relationships, and situationships alike just because we have been for “so long.” Completely unaware of the current value or worth. We will walk around and wonder why were feeling drained, why we feel the need to ignore their calls, withdraw, and why being with them leaves us in one constant loop of deep eye rolls. And while it very may be fixable…is it worth it? The insurance company very well had the means and resources to fix the young lady’s vehicle, but they would rather take their investment elsewhere. Because just like any other repair, it will cost you something. It will cost you long conversations and talking it through, it will cost you patience to see those things come to fruition, it will cost you understanding when possible relapses occur, it will cost you a loss in trust, emotional strain, and most importantly……time.
“Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” – Miles Davis
Time is by far the most valuable resource we have. Yet, we spend much of our lives waiting. We wait for the weekend, for pay day, in traffic, in lines, and for people to change. We wait for people to “get it”, for that epiphany click when they realize their actions and how they effects us. We wait for the magical moment when all of the stars align and we get the apology and changed behavior that our hearts have been yearning for. But will we ever get it? Some will. But more times than not, our initial feeling that the relationship was over was our gut telling us that the season had changed. It was an internal alert that the expiration date on the milk that was once so good for us, was upon us. It was a caution that consuming this further would no longer bring sustenance. Staying after this point is also a shift. It is a shift to addiction. Fiends get locked into addiction chasing their first high. They will spend endless resources trying to get back to this place. They will do this at the cost of their jobs, pride, homes, families, etc. We will spend endless amounts of time trying to fix a broken relationship. Constantly trying to get back to the good times, the best moments, and the season that brought us joy. The cost to do so can often be more than we even have to give.
Assessing value is key. Because staying in a situation that is not good for us brings none. Not only this, but it can diminish our own.