I am a very sociable person with a wide circle of friends. I’m one of those people who wouldn’t be lost spending an entire day with people I have never met, because I would be comfortable among strangers. In my almost fifty years on this planet, I have been fortunate to have found some enduring friendships that make me feel rich and wealthy in love and loyalty.
It used to feel natural — I was just friendly. But through the years, I have come to realize that friendships take nurturing. They take some work — not always a lot — but you have to put a conscious effort to grow the friendship. You have to have the patience to deal with your friend’s quirks– if he or she is perpetually late, you just grin and bear it as you twiddle your thumbs in wait. If he or she seems to have multiple personalities, you would know to take a deep breath when it’s the evil monster who takes her over and her fangs and horns appear out of nowhere. When there is an inordinately long silence and it becomes uncomfortable and worrying, you will pick up the phone or write her an email and take the first step and pick up the conversation from the last time or start a new one. You just can’t let it be, or that friend becomes just another one of those people who just go in and out of your life. You just can’t leave it at that. And if, for some reason, you don’t see eye to eye and the hurt grips your heart and you keep away, you would return in time and not let the friendship wither away. The ones that you let go are the ones that you choose to end.
They said that true friends are those who know all your faults but love you anyway. With all my weaknesses and shortcomings, I am blessed with some broad minded and kind people who can take me with all my charm, self-absorption and overbearing personality. (Oh, I do have my good traits, but anyone and everyone can be good!). I have been fortunate to have some incredible people who have seen me through my lowest of lows, and who have celebrated even just me being me with love and appreciation. In my weakest moments, their words remind me of who I am and what I can do. Just thinking of them brings me back to that moment when I saw myself through their eyes, and I find strength and inspiration in that..
So even when just getting together for dinner to catch up or celebrate some milestone or other takes weeks and weeks to schedule, I don’t give up. (And who cares that my birthday was more than 2 months ago..?!! We can still celebrate..) There are people, and certainly friends, who are worth waiting for. It’s all part of that emotional investment you make in a relationship — whether romantic or platonic.
I am grateful for the way people enrich my life day to day. There are times when a simple word or act of kindness like a heartfelt “Thank you” can spell the difference between carrying me through a trying moment or simply getting me from one hug to the heart to the next. I am even grateful for the missteps of others that have led me to bigger and better things. When people walk away, they leave a void in our universe that someone else will fill. Even between friends.
Even a simple question if you are well this morning can bring a smile to your face. Small acts to let you know they are thinking of you instead of just presuming that “all is well.”
The last few months have been very revealing in showing me who my real friends are. Sadly, some who I had thought had become lifelong friends in the last decade or so, have shown themselves to have been friends merely by association. But that is not a total loss. At least now, I know.
In my heart of hearts, I know, too, that not everyone is meant to stay. There are those who will walk into our lives and move and rock our world in broad strokes and then leave — yes, sometimes, for good. It’s just how life goes. And when that happens, we have to learn to let go. That had not always been easy for me, but I have come to accept that other people’s coming and going is something beyond my control. They choose to be there or they don’t. Knowing that, I have learned to laugh and to appreciate the times spent together — grateful for the ‘now’ — and hope for the best but not pin my hopes on tomorrow. If I wake up tomorrow and one or the other has left, I take what they had given me to enrich my life and move on with it and I will wish them well, and I will hope that the universe brings them my way again.
And if they are meant to stay, I am grateful for the hand that holds mine as I walk in my high heels, or the strong hand that pushes me forward when I hesitate and commands me to go explore the world. I am a better person for all the good and the bad things that have come way — and all the people who have touched my life. Now, I no longer thihnk those who hurt me had taken something away from me — I’d like to think that the pain had made me stronger. I have my own personal cheering squad from different corners in my own universe. Their words of encouragement and affirmation give me a stronger armor and have brought me to where I am now.
The journey is far from over. Even with all that I’ve gone through, I know I have far to go. I refuse to be cowed by my own fear of what is yet to come — because I know that I don’t walk alone. There will be hands holding mine, and other minds thinking when my brain refuses to process anything those times life overwhelms me. I will go back to the laughter and the smiles and the sighs — and find strength in that.
I guess you can say that I view the world with a panoramic lens now. I try to go beyond what is immediately visible in my frame, and pan from left to right, trying to capture the scenery as best as I can. I don’t quite capture it as faithfully as I often want, but I get the bigger picture instead of just one view. I look at every person I encounter as a new chance to learn and be enriched. Even my mail guy who comes by jovially four times a day on my floor had his history notes to share. If I didn’t bother to talk to him, I would’ve even have known he was a student of History. It’s those little bits and pieces about people that we should open our ears and hearts to. We never know what we might learn along the way, and if we keep our eyes closed, what we might be missing.
I thank those who have chosen to keep me in their stable of friends — the privilege is mine.. My life is truly better for the wisdom, love and laughter you have, and continue, to share with me. I really, really hope you will all stay awhile until it’s time for this lady to call it a day and ride off into the sunset for good.