Thursday, September 24, 2009

Changing Friends, Changing Seasons

I asked a question about friendship the other day and it seems that I’m not the only one struggling with this issue. Not by a long shot. I  appreciate the wonderful, supportive, and thought-provoking responses I received. Thank you for every one. Some came from unexpected places, like far-away tropical islands and, in an odd bit of synchronicity, some came from old friends and acquaintances I’d lost touch with, who’ve found me recently because I’m finally online, spilling secrets and thoughts that I’ve always kept hidden.

So the world turns…

This is a topic I’m sure I’ll return to. But in the meantime, these two thoughts:

1. Reading the comments and experiences that you’ve been sharing with me, it occurred to me that this situation, like so many others, is really about integrity. That’s a big one. About being true to yourself, first, before you can be true to others. That unless you’re true to yourself, you’re really lying to everyone else. That’s a really different way of looking at it for me, and important enough to say twice: If you are not being completely honest about YOUR needs and wants, you are LYING to everyone, ALL THE TIME. 

How’s that for terrifying? If I think about it too much it makes me cry. Because it contradicts such core beliefs, and the way I’ve lived my life. I have always considered myself to be a person of high integrity, and it is a trait I value highly in others.  But I’ve always, “honestly” believed that in order to be a good person, you must put others first; that their needs, their wants, supersede my own. A result, I suppose, of my Christian upbringing, but not an uncommon value across many belief systems. I’ll keep working on this one.

2. My experience, and the responses to it, have also made me think about the nature of friendship itself, how we define the word friend, what it means to different people. Facebook uses the word ‘friend’ to mean…what? Anyone who has ever known you, ever known anyone who has ever known you, or has even a passing interest in any topic you might ever have been interested in? At best, that’s just creepy.

But at worst…..

More another time. I promise.

For now I’ll leave you with this poem, which seems appropriate for this experience. The original author is unknown—this is my version. My Buddhist friends would remind me here of two things, I think.

Impermanence – all things change

Remain in the present – appreciate what you are, where you are, and the loved ones with you, right NOW.

Reason, Season, Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you’ll know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed, outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, or to provide you with guidance and support, or to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

They may seem like a Godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they just walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand.

What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled: their work is done.

The prayer you sent up has been answered. Now it’s time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it—it’s real. But only for a season.

And like Spring turns to Summer, and Summer to Fall, the season eventually ends.

Some people come into our lives for a LIFETIME. They make our souls dance. Even through distance, we remain close. These are the relationships we should cherish and hold closest to our hearts. Lifetime relationships teach lifetime lessons: the things we build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation and create a life of worth.

Reason, Season, or Lifetime, friend. In each case, our job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what we’ve learned to use in the other relationships and areas in our lives.

-Author Unknown

And the seasons are a’ changing.