Reflections on Friendship

17 Jul

Those of you who know me know that I am sometimes critical. That is in large part a result of my upbringing and affects many aspects of my life. Something that I have not consciously realized is how I am also critical of friendships. Recently, I have been working on various personal issues and gaining new understands of myself and my relationships (past and present). At the same time, I have also had opportunities to visit with various groups of old friends (partly because I will be moving back to China soon). I have enjoyed these visits and did not feel the vague disappointment I have sometimes felt in the past when, after visiting with a group of friends, I felt like, “We didn’t talk about anything substantive.”

Don’t get me wrong. I still value deep, one-on-one discussions over other interactions but I am starting to appreciate other friendship relationships FOR WHAT THEY ARE. Basically, as with many other things, it is a matter of changing expectations. Instead of wanting things to be the way “I want”, I am starting to allow them to be what they are. And surprisingly (or not really), I am able to find new enjoyment in those friendships. In a way each friendship is special and brings something unique and that is what I am starting to see rather than looking at what is missing. The way you connect with someone is like two puzzle pieces – they fit together in a very specific way that are unique to that friendship.???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Related to this is a feeling of gratitude for all the wonderful people I have in my life. Granted we are all very busy and sometimes long time passes before I am able to connect with some friends. But the wonderful thing is that, even after long absences, those friendships are still meaningful and the feelings remain unchanged. Of course there have also been some friendships that have been lost and that is always difficult. But I have accepted that and remain open to the possibility of potentially reviving those in the future. But since the possibility of that is not in my hands, I have let go of any expectations in that regard – in a way, it is interesting just to see how things will develop over time and what life will bring with it. And if a friendship is only meant to last for a short time, so be it. The duration of a friendship is not what defines it. Sometimes even a brief friendship can have a profound impact. People come into our lives for a reason and a purpose and when that reason and purpose are fulfilled, we may have to say goodbye to that friendship, grateful that we had a chance to experience it.

Bottom line, whether from the past or the present, I am very appreciative of all the people who have been there for me, cried with me, laughed with me, challenged me and made me a stronger, wiser and hopefully better person. Thank you, dear friends, one and all.



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