Thursday, August 12, 2010

Shedding Excess Weight

“Sometimes people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”

This has always been one of my favorite quotes. I have no idea who said it, but it always rings true for me. A concept that I have been thinking about a lot lately is friendship. Specifically, the changing tides of friendships.

It has always been interesting to me how friendships start, grow, blossom, and recede based on where we are in our lives. When we are young and in school, we are at the same place in our lives as our friends and we have many commonalities that support close friendships. As we grow up and maybe go off to college, get married, have kids, move away, or get involved in the community, we find that friends make appearances in our lives, for just a moment, for a short time, or for a long while. It is hard to predict how long or for what reason a friendship will last. I have found over the years that despite my best efforts, I can never really guess what path a friendship will take.

I have heard that “friends come into your life for a reason, a season, or for life.” Sometimes, those friends you think are “life-long” friends turn out to be friends just for a “season”, or even just for a “reason”. And, sometimes, we are pleasantly surprised when a friend we thought might just be a friend for a “reason” or a “season” emerges as a friend for “life”. We always perceive our good friends to be constants in our lives; but, realistically, life often gets in the way, and our friendships ebb and flow, regardless of everyone’s best intentions. Sometimes, friendships start to fade away, or at least take more of a back seat than usual, and it can make us sad, or even mad, especially when there hasn’t been an abrupt falling out. I know that I can feel sort of lost when my friendships shift unpredictably.

At the same time, shifts in friendships can also sometimes become blessings in disguise. As we change and grow as we live our lives, sometimes we aren’t even aware that our needs are changing. Sometimes, without conscious awareness, we are making space for new and different friends to come into our lives. In the past, I have had friends who I have liked to go to the movies with, go out to the bars with, and other friends with whom I have had great heart-to-heart talks. One friend typically cannot fulfill all of these roles for me, so depending on where I have been in my life, different people have filled these roles for different reasons.

There are times when I have sensed that something is “off” and I can’t quite put a finger on it.  I have learned from past experience that often this means that I am about to experience some kind of a shift. I can’t always identify it, but there is a restlessness inside me. I can tell that my internal energy is changing, but I am not sure how or why. It feels like an opening is being created, but I don’t know who or what will walk through it. This can be a scary time as it is a period of uncertainty. Sometimes I feel like a ship in the fog, and I can tell that my internal ballast is not upright.

At times it feels like I am walking around carrying the extra weight of this shift in energy without seeing clearly what is on the horizon. It feels like a heavy burden. It’s feels similar to what it feels like when we are carrying extra weight in our bodies. It doesn’t feel particularly good. It feels sort of icky.

I have learned over the years that in order for my emotional or physical weight to decrease, I have to be open to things shifting and changing in my life. Sometimes the shift involves work, and sometimes it involves play. But, often, it involves and impacts friendships.

We have to trust and believe that when we feel ebbs and flows in our relationships and friendships, or in our own needs, hearts or bodies, that there is a shift occurring that frees us from whatever is holding us back now. It is a shift that helps with shedding the excess weight of holding on to a perception, a feeling, or a friendship, that may be slipping away. Even though it is the last possible thing I want to do at that moment, I need to be courageous (my favorite word!) and to be open to newness, to something “different”, to a surprising observation, to growing internally, to people traveling into or out of my life. Easier said than done, I know.

I often want to clutch to the way things are, or even the way that I think they are, rather than just let time, circumstance, and friendships unfold in the way they are meant to do. This requires surrendering to the present, and to the way things are, rather than remembering how things were in the past or hoping for things to be different in the future. Staying present can be challenging, but living wholly in the present is a gift to ourselves that helps us to become “lighter” in thought, heart, and body. When we live in the present, we are not weighed down by the past or the future. We are just willing to accept what is, and surrender to it.