We all have ebbs and we all have flows. There are times when life is easy and all the cards are falling our way. But there are also times when despite our best efforts, we are not succeeding. There are times when life is so heavy we can’t seem to even move. We all have these periods. So true friendship, or a marriage, or any kind of relationship will be based on the idea that we are still worthy even in those, the lowest of times.
How this translates is, even though it’s totally unrewarding and quite painful to deal with a spouse with a form of dementia, if the marriage was on solid ground and both people had generally been loving throughout the marriage, then as bad as that time is, we simply just move through it using our love as fuel.
If we have an employee who’s always been excellent but then went through a divorce or the death of a close relative, and then their work just fell apart, we don’t give up on that employee. We saw how they acted for years. That’s really them.
Maybe most importantly, if a friend is suddenly behaving very differently then it’s more likely they need help than correction.
If we’re the person who’s struggling we have to be conscious about our thinking. We don’t want to start rolling on woe-is-me, who’s going to want to hang around with someone like me? narratives. Our value does not come from what we do. It doesn’t come from our relationships or our job. Our value is inherent. It simply is.
None of us can shake our value, lose it, or throw it away. Our value never changes, only our assessments of our value do. And those assessments are done via narratives and, as we know, I’m all about shutting down narratives so that we can be.
When I think of my closest friends I don’t have quick easy answers as to why they’re my closest friends. I could sum it up quickly by saying they’re the best people I know. But when it comes down to it, I just like how they are.
No one is really our friend because of what we do for them. And we’re not anyone’s friend for what they do for us. So can we start to see that friendship has more to do with an ephemeral quality that relates somehow to being? Friends like they way we are in the world and vice versa.
There’s no job requirements, you don’t need a certain amount of money or education. We can even make mistakes and let them down when life is hard because they’ll forgive it the same way I recommended forgiving the challenges of the employee who’s struggling with a tragedy.
With friends we don’t have a lot of demands and neither do they. We just go to them whenever we want to Be. Only best friends let you Be because they are the ones that know how to appreciate us as we are, warts and all.
Now there will still be some very good people who aren’t behaving in friendly ways toward us. So let’s not forget we can all get caught up in our thoughts and lose sight of our natural wisdom. We can all engage our egos and we’re more likely to do it when we’re under duress. So if people have rejected us for reasons we don’t agree with then that’s fine.
We can disagree and they can go replace us as a friend, but no one’s actual value has changed. This is the key: only the thoughts of those individuals has changed. Nothing in the natural world has. We are still the same us, regardless of other’s judgments.
Friends make life easier —which is primarily because of their acceptance of us. And they forgive those who couldn’t make it last. Life’s challenging and the Yin and Yang of it dictates that if there is an ‘in,’ then there is also an ‘out.’ So if we can be enlightened, then we can also be in ego. And egos make any friendship challenging. In fact, even in our lasting relationships, our most challenging times will have always been when one or the other was deep in ego.
For this reason we are best to forgive as many people as we can, including ourselves. Be with who’s available. Be with who makes life better and forget the rest as other times. We only live Now, so other times are largely irrelevant to our happiness unless we choose to bring them into the present with counterproductive thinking.
As we move through life, we should know that we will gather friends and we will shed some too. We’re a bit like intersecting lines. We are in near perfect long term alignment with some people, and yet with others the angles mean our meeting will be shorter and at a much sharper angle. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with either person.
The world’s a big place with about eight billion people on it. So it makes sense that at any given time at least a few of those people won’t be acceptable to us and we won’t be to them. That doesn’t mean anything’s wrong so stop telling yourself stories like something is. They’ll only hurt, and they ignore the fact that friendships still have tremendous value even if they end or go through periods of interruption.
If we truly love people we must let them Be. Even if that means not being with us.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.