Over the summer, as I got busier and busier, I started reevaluating my relationships. We all know that relationships of any kind take commitment and work to keep them going. And, some relationships are more important to us than others. We have family, close friends and acquaintances. Sometimes, it's easy to be confused about our friendships, putting too much or too little into them without realizing that maybe the other person doesn't feel the same way as we do. When I started looking at that, I noticed that, in most of my friendships, I was putting most or all of the work into them. I wondered what would happen if I stopped doing that, so I stopped. As some of the people I considered close friends fell by the wayside, I was forced to look at what made me feel close to them. In some cases, it was shared experiences. In others, it was shared music. And in others, it was convenience. I realized that, although I still feel close to all of them and love them all, I was fine with not putting so much energy in and getting very little back. What really surprised me was the new relationships that grew because I had more time to put into those. A wise man once said to me, when talking about failed love relationships, "Why would I want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with me?" That is so true. I realize that many of us are so busy, we have very little time for outside friends. Maybe we're caught up in our partnerships or working a lot or fostering new relationships, and that's all fine. I don't have any hard feelings towards those who have gone in another direction. After all, we can always count on change. It's just interesting to watch the evolution of friendships and to remember that if we want to maintain them, we have to do an equal amount of the work.
Then, there are our family relationships. We don't choose our families. Some of us are very lucky and are very close to our families. Others are not so lucky. I was the black sheep of the family and always felt like the odd one out. It didn't help that I married someone that my parents hated. Although, they also didn't give him a chance. They assumed a lot of things about him, most of which were not true. For example, he did not corrupt me. I was already corrupted. And, he did not get me involved in the drug scene but rather saved me from serious addiction. Because of my marriage and the fact that I never conformed to the life they wanted for me, I was left out of many family events, even though we all lived locally. When out-of-town family came to visit, my mother would mention that they were coming at some point in the next month. Then, she would call to tell all about the wonderful visit they all had with everyone but me and my family. It was like a black hole had opened up leaving out the actual visit. One time, I called to find out when we would be celebrating my dad's birthday only to be told that, "we celebrated last night (days earlier than his actual birthday) with just the family." Now that my parents are both gone, it's very hard for me to put the energy into connecting with my siblings. It's not their fault, but too much has happened - too many times of being left out and unconsidered. In our defense, we are all making the effort now, it just doesn't come easy.
So, what is the lesson in all of these musings? I guess it's that we need to decide who's important in our lives and reach out to them regularly. After all, how much time does it take to make a quick phone call, text or email? How hard is it, if we're already planning to go out somewhere, to invite a friend to come along? I recently reminded my adult grandson, who never calls, that I won't be around forever. The older I get, the more I feel my mortality. I get tired much more easily and am looking into retirement to enjoy the time I have left. I'm not afraid of dying and never dwell on it, but I'm aware of how much I regret the time not spent with loved ones who have passed on. After the loss of his mother, my husband reminded the audience at a gig, "Go home and call your mothers." That is very sage advice for all of us. Call your mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends. And, enjoy them while you can.