“Sister, the potassium level is 6.1 in this blood sample!”
It’s a medical emergency. But the senior ICU nurse, bent over paperwork at her desk, didn’t even raise her head.
“Recalibrate the machine and repeat the test.”
The process takes 3 minutes. A chastened junior nurse returned with the second blood report.
“It’s only 3.5 now, Sister.”
Her senior just smiled.
It was a familiar problem. After a certain time, the analyzer used to measure blood levels of vital chemicals had to be reset. Several minor tweaks and drifts happen. Collectively, they can skew a measurement – sometimes badly. And that could even create a pseudo-emergency!
It happens in other areas, too. Even with people in our lives.
Lately, I’ve noticed this effect in a few of my relationships. Some of them are 20, even 30+ years old.
At first, I was surprised and upset. But then, after thinking it over deeply, I realized something.
We tend to do two things to people:
- affix a label (e.g. “friend”)
- assign a set of attributes to it
But over time, things change.
Suddenly, one fine day, it appears as if the attributes don’t quite match the label… and you’re shocked at how everything’s now ‘different’.
Like a blood gas analyzer, our relationships also need to be periodically recalibrated.
Both the label, and its attributes.