This was the predominant thought in my head as I woke up this morning. It was windy, it was rainy, and it was fairly miserably outside (and still is) but for some reason this was the thought in my head. It took me all morning to figure out why and it's actually somewhat cool I think.
Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but in life there are times where one has to move on from what one has known for some time. For example, I'm a military brat; my dad was in the Air Force and we moved around a few times during my childhood. Making friends and having to leave those friends became kind of matter of fact for me; I knew that any friendships I made in one spot would inevitably end somewhere between two to four years down the road. That's military life; you move where they tell you, when they tell you, and you just have to get used to it.
Unfortunately, this has the tendency to make one focused on the short term rather than the long term. I'm a huge offender in that category. When I arrived here in Alabama over 11 years ago (it'll be 12 years in January) with my family, I was told that this was the last stop; my dad would retire here, we would live here-in one place-and that was that. Now, I was 12 at this time and I was a bit jaded at the whole "moving" thing. I was on the cusp of my teenage years and I pretty much just scoffed internally at that. I stuck with what worked.
Now, to anyone who knows me even decently, they know that I am a HUGE believer in sticking with what works and I will stick with that till something drastic happens. I am, as one dear friend (and many others over the years) put it, an insanely stubborn ass. I will plow on till I hit a wall, plow through said wall until I hit a minefield, and plow through said minefield until I finally, mercifully, admit that I was wrong.
So, with that in mind, I employed my standing policy when I arrived in Alabama; don't plan on making friends for the long term. Settle in with a nice group, enjoy their company for two to four years, and don't get too attached as it will only make things harder in the end.
You can imagine my surprise when four years came and went; I was still here, so was my family, and there was no way we were moving. We had become ingrained in our community for the first time in my life I dare say. We are still ingrained to this day and I love it.
That brings me to the thought of the day; we're all just leafs. Now, I know, it sounds a little weird, but here me out. Leafs spend a large portion of their existence with the same tree, on the same branch, surrounded by the same leafs. There comes a time in every leaf's life where they must leave (see what I did...oh, never mind) the tree, the branch, and their fellow leafs; there comes a time where the wind blows them off and they are carried somewhere new.
Now, this could be right at the base of their tree, nearby to some fellow leafs who have fallen too; or this could be somewhere completely new, a territory unexplored and unknown. One is a place where the leaf would feel comfortable while the other is a place where the leaf would feel rather anxious, if not a bit fearful.
That's us. Human beings are like leafs. We are born into a community and we settle down into one; the community becomes our tree. Our friends and family are the fellow leafs nearby us who share our particular branch on the tree. Then, there comes a time where the winds of change (in other words life) blows us away from our tree and our branch. Sometimes we land nearby and are able to stay with the same people. Sometimes we end up far away and we have to create a new tree, a new branch, for us.
This is something that everyone goes through, myself included. I have had the fortune to be able to call a place home for the last 11 (going 12) years but I think my leaf is about to be blown off the tree, finally. Like I said, I'm stubborn; I have stubbornly hung on for a long time. But even my insane level of stubbornness has its limits. Friends whom I've been close to for years now are moving on about their lives; some far away, some nearby. Friends whom I've just recently made I find myself missing and it seems as though a turning point is near. One way or another, something's got to give, right?
I'm a leaf and naturally, I will be blow off my tree and my branch. The question is, where will I land? Nearby? Far away?
It's a strange thing, nature. I remember in my younger years promising to myself, once I realized I would be here for the long term, that I wouldn't let my friends fade away. Friendships, like any kind of ship (relationships, starships) require nurturing. They require caring and maintenance. Now, in the past, humans didn't have the best tools to cultivate that friendship past those years where they in the same radius as their friends. When someone isn't nearby, it's hard to keep things the same; it's hard to keep the friendship from going into the dreaded "old friend" status. Being an old friend pretty much means you're not a current friend; you're part of the past, in the history books, and you've likely not even made it into the acknowledgments.
"But that was the past, this is today!" You say. In part, you're right, we live in an age where, thanks to the internet, cell phones, and more, we're almost never out of contact with our friends. In fact, it's a bit overwhelming how often we are in contact with our friends. So to say "We'll be friends forever" is actually a possibility now whereas before it was quite hard to pull off, if not impossible, if you lived far away.
The constant connectivity is the issue though; friendships now achieve "burnout" faster than ever before. We're human beings, we get annoyed and frustrated at people we spend a lot of time with; it's just a fact of life. Sure, we may love them to death and enjoy their company, but there will be days when you explode on someone for a little thing that bugs you. In the past, this could lead to the end of the friendship, but more likely a cool down period would be taken by both parties. "You leave me alone, I'll leave you alone" and things would work themselves out now.
You can't do that today. You blow up on someone and within the day, at the latest, it's on Facebook, Twitter, and your friend's blog. You try to ignore it but you're flooded with texts and voicemails on your cell about what happened; you try to find solace in playing some video games but darn it all, your message box there is full-you're friends with your friends everywhere. You can't get away from it and thanks to your parents finally getting around to the 21st century, they know pretty much everything too.
You're frustrated, you're pissed, and you're annoyed. You can't take this lying down, can you? So you fire back. Fast forward a few days and you've unfriended your former friend everywhere. So what if you see each other almost every day? So what if you have class together and at the beginning of the year you specifically chose to sit next to them? You can ignore them. It's over.
Burnout has been achieved. Human beings were never designed for this constant bombardment of friendship. Like everything else, friendship is good in moderation. We're all just leaves and we're all going to move on; the constant connectivity is a blessing and a curse. We have to be aware of that. In some respects, past generations had it better than us. Sure, they didn't have Facebook, Twitter, or Blogs; but they also didn't have their treasured friendships from years passed tarnished by some insensitive comment, a blog that made a reference to you and you weight struggles, or the fact that you friend is now dating your ex from high school.
In some ways, the old leafs had it better. Us new leafs have to protect ourselves from overusing our constant connectivity. No one wants to lose a friend; no matter how annoying they can be sometimes, friendships are a bond that helps us humans live life to the fullest. A life without friends isn't a life at all.
Now, with all that being said, I'd like to wish all my friends a Merry Christmas. You guys and gals mean a lot, even if I stupidly forget to say it most of the time. You're the best folks. :)
I'd also like to send a special shout out to all our military; I know a lot of you folks can't be home for the holidays, but let it be known you are appreciated. Thank you for providing us another safe year and may you all be as safe as you can be.
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. This will be the last post before Christmas here on the blog; I'll be posting again towards the middle of next week and I'm sure I'll have plenty of great tales to tell.
As always, any and all comments are welcome. Hope you enjoyed.