Monday, November 28, 2005

Ramblings on Friendship

I wrote this Saturday night...

I am content with my little life at the moment. And that is something. I have always been driven to live life BIG, soaking it up as fast as I can, and desperately searching for more of it. I have appreciated the little bits of life in the briefest of moments, but have not given them their full due.

This realization has been coming for awhile, two or three years at least.

Tonight as I languished in a tub of hot water, the smell of peppermint still on my hands from the garden, reading a book, I realized that I have arrived at this place. I'm at the point where I can enjoy a little life as much as a big life. I can be in this little moment and be content, without planning for the next big moment.

What are the ramifications of this? I'm not sure. And I certainly do not want to become someone who is complacent and going through the motions of living, without doing any real living, but I am seeing that one can lead a "little" life and be content without being routine.

Also tonight I have begun to wash away the bits of relationships - literally and figuratively. There are thoughts and dreams and people I've been holding on to that I need to let go. I periodically do a mental run through of friendships and weed out ones that are no longer valid. I'm overdue for that process.

It is easy to kid yourself into believing that because people matter to you, and you feel a loyalty to them, that they feel the same way about you. It's an intoxicating lie, and one we all indulge in at times. But, I realize I must look at the realities of all the relationships in my life, and get clear about what they are.

When one considers who you really matter to, the list grows very short. Who makes time for you in their lives? Who comes to your aid without you having to ask? Who rejoices with you when you're madly, crazy, in love and doesn't remind you of that foolishness when you're falling out of love and encourages you to do it with the same abandon the next time around? Who calls you on a Saturday and says, "drop what you're doing, lets take a drive today and have lunch at that cafe we love?" Who invites you into their world, instead of only accepting invitations into yours?

I'm wrestling with this concept these days. Who wants me in their world? Very few people is the cold, hard truth. It's not the same thing as people being willing to be in my world. Those are different. One requires keeping an appointment and one requires giving of yourself.

I have had a very concrete measure of where I stand in people's lives in the last few years as I have worked on the house. I have been overwhelmed at times, and made no secret of it, but very few in my world have offered their assistance - to help move something or paint or clean or whatever.

I can count six people who have helped, from moving to today. Meanwhile I have watched people offer themselves to others for various projects from cleaning basements to moving, but not to me. So, I must come to the logical conclusion about what that means.

Of course, I do not want people to help me out of obligation, so I do not ask. Nor will I. At this point the message is clear that I am not worthy of their time and energy. I am not that important to them. It has been almost 4 years. There has been ample opportunity for people to offer themselves and they have chosen not to.

To ignore such things is foolish. One should always know where one stands. I'm not happy with where I stand in many relationships, but nonetheless it is where I stand. I must accept it and make decisions accordingly.

In the last five years I lost my mother and one of my best friends in the span of less than a month, I left a job I'd had for a long time and started a completely new career, I bought a house for the first time and moved out of an apartment I lived in for a very long time, I fell deeply in love and had that relationship end.

My life has provided multiple opportunities for people to offer themselves willingly on many levels, to forge deeper bonds of friendship. But few have taken that path. Most have remained on the sidelines. A very select few have stepped forward and said, "yes, I want to make this friendship more than it was yesterday by engaging with you at this time." Very few.

If friendships do not have the capacity to deepen, there really isn't any point in being in them. If those major life events did not deepen friendships, there probably is not much hope they can deepen. So, they must be accepted on the level they are at or disbanded. I'm not sure there is much point in maintaining a friendship that doesn't have capacity to grow. Does anyone really need more "acquaintances?" I don't think so. I certainly don't. Unless those can grow into real friendships there is no point in investing energy in them.

So, I find myself at a crossroads of sorts. It seems my life and the relationships in it are in need of some rearranging and revamping. I believe in the spring I will engage in the Gullah tradition of "traveling" and see what emerges from that sacred time.

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