Out of sight, out of mind… or distance makes fonder… which is it?
It’s not a simple question. It’s also not as black and white as that. These are, in fact, two ends of a spectrum. We meet many people during our lifetime and everyone falls somewhere in between, with very few, if at all, hitting the “fonder” end of the spectrum.
Considering the large number of people we encounter, I’d say most people remain close to the “out of sight” end. These are the people we don’t make any soul connections with. We either interact with them briefly, or even if it is for an extended time, the interaction only remains superficial and purely transactional. We never get to see who they really are. They don’t get to see who we really are. There are no emotional bonds, and we never find ourselves simply thinking about them for no reason.
Then there are those who touch our souls to varying extent. There are friends with whom we share a part of our lives. They may or may not understand us fully, but they know us better than most. These people may be out of our sight but they are never entirely out of the mind. We think about them on special occasions, or sometimes just like that while reminiscing. Sometimes certain things remind us of them. Once we’ve exposed our soul to someone, even in part, that person can never be out of the mind regardless of how seldom we see them.
There’s a handful of people who carry a part of us, like family. No matter where we go, we don’t stop thinking about them. It’s not an active process of thinking but something that happens on a subconscious level. I may not speak to my family for days, but not a day goes by when I don’t think about them. It’s not missing, it’s not reminiscing. It’s more like them crossing my mind multiple times in a day for no reason and without any specific emotion involved. Soulmates fall in this category too. Soulmates don’t always have to be romantic partners. These are people we feel instant connection with. These are people we can open up to without any hesitation. It’s almost as if they already know us. It doesn’t matter how much or how little time we spend with them, these bonds develop almost instantly. Our soul never forgets these people even if we were to never see them again.
So “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t apply to everyone we meet. But just because these people are on our mind, occasionally or constantly, does the distance between us make us any fonder? Perhaps not.
Distances can be of different types. There are physical distances, and of these physical distances there are those that can be overcome and those that cannot be overcome. Some of my closest friends are oceans apart. My family lives in a different state. These are distances I can overcome if I really want to, and maybe that’s why these distances don’t make me any fonder of these people than I already am. My love for them remains unchanged. They are my soul connections.
But there are distances that cannot be overcome, like those that come with passing away. I have lost two people in the last year who were very dear to me – my grandma, and a nameless lover; and I can never bring these people back. I do, however, think about them everyday. I think about my grandma every morning when I’m making my smoothie, because I use the blender that once belonged to her. I have other things in my household that were hers and are a constant reminder to me. I think about her every time I’m making roti because she’s the one who taught me how to make one, and I have such precious memories of that time. I think about my lost love everyday too. The insurmountable distance has made me fonder of the memories I have of these people, but not necessarily of the people themselves. I have accepted that they are gone and I don’t wish for them to come back. In parting, all I remember about them are good things and the good times we shared.
There’s another kind of distance that is not as tangible. It is the emotional distance, and it has no correlation with the physical distance between two people. Sometimes people grow apart living under the same roof. Sometimes people feel close when they are away but when they come together, they realize that they can only love each other from a distance. Other times, people move so far away that they can no longer relate to each other.
I have a very close friend who moved away few months ago. This friend and I are very different and yet very similar. While this friend was around, our similarities overpowered our differences, and we always had great conversations. Since he has moved away though, our differences are slowly overpowering our similarities. He is finally living the life he always dreamed of, which is nothing like the life I dream of. He likes everything fancy and I like everything simple. The last time I spoke to him, I couldn’t relate to anything he said, and suddenly I realized that we are no longer “close” the way we used to be. In fact, I almost did not want to talk to him.
The emotional distance, then, actually has the exact opposite effect. It can make people less fond of each other, over time killing the fondness entirely.
To conclude, our fondness or love for someone is a complex phenomenon, with distance only playing a small role in it. Out of sight doesn’t always mean out of mind, and distance rarely makes the heart fonder of people… of memories, yes.