The year 2007 was a magical year for me. It was the year I repaired my life.
One of the many emotional gifts I was given that year was the simple phrase, "We make time for the people and things which are important to us." I hadn't ever really stopped to consider that in a positive way. Since that time, I have used that simple logic- which I believe is nearly always accurate- to invest in some relationships and de-invest in others. It is how I go about the task of sorting out who I am going to spend time with. Equally important is that I allow other people in my life to distance themselves from me and I don't worry about why that happens or why they chose to do that. I don't feel an overwhelming sense of guilt- not like I used to- when I can't rekindle an old friendship or spend hours dwelling on what it was exactly, that I did wrong and how I can try to make it right. That is emotionally taxing.
Last night, I had a 30 minute conversation with a complete stranger in a grocery store parking lot. I am sorry that I had to cut it short. Crazy, huh?
We had been in the store together, waiting in line. He was about my age, a little older perhaps- excellent physique and well dressed. He had a kind, soft voice. As he spoke with the cashier and bagged his things- I assumed that he was gay. Let me say for the record that very often I am full of shit and I certainly was last night. He wasn't gay at all- he was just a very well kept, well groomed man who is very active. This I found out later as we talked in the parking lot.
I had followed him out of the store. His Lexus SUV was parked right next to the best looking Roadking in all of Boise. That's how it started. He told me that he had just sold an anniversary Heritage (with 2000 miles on it!) he had received from a client as payment. That statement alone caused my brain to explode. I asked him if it was a 2003 and indeed it was. He had gotten 9 grand for it which was a pretty good deal. It still had the original tires. I have known lawyers who accept bartered goods for services rendered and as it turns out- that is exactly what had happened.
He told me that the bike was really only worth half what the guy actually owed him. Being a closet lawyer hater and Harley lover- I quickly surmised that the bike was probably worth twice what the lawyer had spent in actual, billable hours.
At any rate, I do have lawyer friends that I like- in as much as I detest the legal profession in general. I liked this guy immediately. We talked about a wide range of things- it was just one of those random conversations where everything flows and makes sense. We talked about a lot of things, including the recent death of his daughter. There is not enough guilt in the world it seems for parents who lose children. That horrible event has always broken my heart. It is tragic and I'm not sure parents ever, really, get over it. The truth is, I'm sure some do- I just haven't met any of them yet.
Of all the things we talked about, we discovered that we had several mutual friends in the Twin Falls area. One of them was a local cop who I used to work with. He got in trouble with drugs and for some time- that event ruined his marriage, his kids, and his life. I don't know if he served time over it. I do know that this officer was one of the funniest and most fearless cops I had ever met. I always loved working with him because he was so hilarious. As I spoke with my new found friend, he said that he and his wife used to be very close friends with that couple and that they had made several attempts to re-connect with them. Even though they seemed excited about the prospect- the re-union never materialized. In many ways, I think that's a shame.
I was immediately reminded that there are a couple of friends like that in my life and I think in some sense- that they really would like to get together again but for reasons undisclosed- they simply do not. It's not because I haven't tried. The truth is, I may have emotionally damaged them. Both of them are significant grudge holders. When they perceive that others have "damaged" them- they simply ignore them. Oh they pretend to be nice, but the truth is- they simply lack the capacity for forgiveness. When they screw other people over which both of them have done- they are very adept at rationalizing their own decisions as necessary and justified.
Going through life and holding "grudges" is no way to live your life. I can't carry around that bag of angst, animosity, and guilt anymore. Holding grudges or being ashamed of what you have said or done, is really a shitty way to live your life. It's wasteful and not useful. Understanding that, and not taking things personally was certainly a part of the list of emotional repairs that I made way back in 2007... which brings me back to our big finish.
People make mistakes and people fail us. That's what people do. We all do it. Very often I think, relationships must simply run their course. Sometimes, people enter our lives for mysterious reasons and then they exit. Perhaps they are there to teach us something about ourselves. Sometimes they are just convenient. Rarely, if ever, do friendships stand the test of time. I have one friend, who I talk to monthly, which has gone on now for 40 years. I have a few more frienships in the 20 year range. The rest of them just seem to come and go. I am ok with that- actually I am very thankful for the one friendship that has lasted 40 years. Thank you Doug.
In my life, I make time for the things that are important to me. If someone is not making time for you- then you will probably have to accept the fact that for whatever reason- you are simply no longer important to them. What ever type of relationship you once had with them- has been damaged or has probably run it's course. That's how I sort out the people in my life. I will make an effort or two, an invitation to do something with them- and if they want to- I know they'll make time for me. If they don't want to spend time with me- I accept that also- despite the spin or little lies they might use to escape my invitation. I no longer waste my own time trying to figure out what I did wrong. The only wrong thing I think, is not extending an invitation in the first place. Beyond that, I let people make their choices and just be who they are.
If any given person wants you in their life- they'll find the time. If not, they won't. I pay attention to what people actually do and dismiss virtually everything they say in those situations. It works well.
I think had I opened this conversation up last night in that grocery store parking lot we might have talked all night. It was fun talking to a complete stranger. There is something very authentic and truthful when you can discuss life with a total stranger free of the baggage and untruthfulness of a shared history. I thought about that conversation a lot last night.
People can't even make eye contact or say "hi" in the big city- can you imagine this conversation ever happening in Manhattan? Never. Ever. I love living in small town America. In a way, making time for a stranger in a parking lot says- I will make time for you, you matter to me. A complete stranger. Kind of interesting isn't it?