Today while walking uphill in a 102 degree fever, it hit me like a bolt of lightning. It hit me that people – they come in your life with the promise that they will give; that they mean good and will bring good. That any relationship you establish with them will be mutual and not parasitic. In the animal kingdom, mutual and parasitic are actual forms of relationship. Mutual relationships are better known as “symbiosis” in the animal kingdom. The hippo lets the oxpecker feed off of his skin because she promises to keep him clean. In exchange, the oxpecker (it’s a bird) gets an unlimited supply of food.

However, in a parasitic relationship, flees suck the blood out of the dog’s skin, and just takes and takes and never gives back.

Human relationships are not like that, though. They always start off as mutual. Like the hippo and the oxpecker. At first, their relationships is great and perfectly mutual. Sooner than expected, the oxpecker has overdone herself cleaning his skin, and the hippo realizes that. He starts seeing the oxpecker as a parasite, and he starts shaking vigorously. He does not want the oxpecker sitting on his back for nothing. He’s had enough. He doesn’t want to give her a free ride on the back.

In contrast, it is completely possible that the hippo does nothing like that. It is possible that the oxpecker has over fed herself and starts nagging on his skin now. The pecker who promised to eat only the bits around his skin now starts eating the skin itself. She becomes a parasite.

Or how about this – the oxpecker has nothing to gain from the hippo, but the hippo forces her to stay anyway. He likes the feel of the bird on his back. He asks her to give him a massage instead. The hippo gets greedy and starts over drawing his account with the oxpecker. He has become the parasite.

In life, people are like that. Too many situations occur with too many people. In my experience, people who come in to your life with promise end up taking more from you than giving back. They take away from you your happiness, your innocence, your youth and your simplicity. In exchange they give you some tough lessons. Maybe those are invaluable. It depends entirely on interpretation.

I just feel sometimes that a person who tries with every breath to make other’s lives possible, deserves something for his/her own life too sometimes. In life though, good things never come for free. You can either ask for them or snatch them. In either case, you need a strong will to act in self-interest. If you are too soft and gentle, people will never give up the chance to walk all over you.

Things like these are learned the hard way. Like having to pick your own self up when your strength is zero, or having to survive while awaiting your name to be called on death row. If seen in a truer light, we are all dying aren’t we? Yes, we are, and while we are all awaiting our personal end, we are surviving and learning. Some on a steep curve and some on a flat one, but we are getting there while life lasts.


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