When we are children we play with the other children in our neighborhoods, our parents’ friends’ children, and those we spend our days with at school. Sometimes deep relationships are forged during this time and sometimes we can’t wait to get out of the hood so we can spread our wings and finally find the people that we are meant to spend our days with – click with, share interests and perspectives. Where are your people?
While I had friendships throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years, I have not kept in contact with a single one. Not one. This may seem sad to some of you that continue to regularly communicate with or live next door to your best friend from Kindergarten. I admire that. That is not how it played out for me. I remember in about middle school longing for the days when I could bust out of my hometown and see what else/who else was out there. Funny enough, my husband grew up only about 30 minutes from me and one of my closest friends lived in the same town and we likely passed each other, but didn’t know each other until we met in our 20s on the other end of the state.
Then college and graduate school. I have one person that I continue to keep in somewhat contact with and this is mostly because she lives in the same town as me and has a child the same age as one of mine, so our paths cross. Am I odd for not having relationships that have stuck through the decades? Relationships are hard. They take work by both people. There are times when I have no longer intentionally nourished a relationship any further because I didn’t feel the same effort being given on the other end or our differences were becoming stronger than our similarities. I am sure there are friends that intentionally did the same to me. Is this bad? No, not at all. It’s like pruning a tree. We cannot feed every branch we grow. We need to trim off the ones that are withering so that there is more to give to the stronger more prominent branches. When we give more to those strong branches, the whole tree grows in health and reaches higher toward the sun.
In the presence of others
Today, as I write this, I am sitting in a coffee shop. I could have stayed home, but I wanted to be around people. My kids have one last day of school and sadly my dog passed away a few weeks ago, so the house was empty. While I have to admit an empty house can be appealing, today I needed people. While I’m not here to interact with anyone other than the barista, the vibe and energy of other human beings is palpable in this place. I am benefiting from their chatter, laughter, and intelligent discussions, even though I am a very passive observer. I have always found people intriguing. When I was at college I would sit alone in the commons area and watch people walk by or congregate in groups. Human behavior has always been an interest of mine. At times though I’ve wondered about my part in the human race.
I would classify myself as an introvert, yet I do enjoy and appreciate the energy from others. I don’t always feel inclined though to contribute verbally. However, I have found that being an active listener, a facilitator, and being adept at dropping in humor to lift the mood, is really where my strengths are and this is okay.
In our adult years our friendships, again, are likely based on proximity. We make friends with colleagues at work, likeminded people in our neighborhood, or in groups we join. Granted social media and the internet has opened up the world for us to have long distance relationships, aren’t the ones closest in proximity the strongest? If we want to continue to keep people in our lives because we are determined that they are one of the healthy, vibrant branches of our tree, then we need to interact and be in the presence of those individuals. These people mold us and help us prosper.
Even after relationships have passed, they have provided us something, some memory, some development in our being that wouldn’t have occurred had that relationship never been. As people walk in and out of our lives, we continue to walk on as well. There are over 7 billion people on this planet. We are not at a loss of possibilities. I greatly appreciate you being a part of this tribe that congregates here and allowing me to provide food for thought and nourishment for your soul.