The night’s bite against my bare skin proves this summer is waning which means I have thrown myself into high-gear in order to accomplish a few more things on my “Summer To-Do List”. It appears every nook and cranny of my house is filled to bursting with the debris of life, requiring me to ponder “landfill, Goodwill, put away”? And there is something about being hiney-deep in dust bunnies to get me pondering anything other than my pathetic skills as a housekeeper. In other words, some days lend themselves to deeper think tanks than others and I’ve had a few of late.
Are you a keeper? A recycler? A shelver? If you are like me, the answer varies with the object. That inscribed book: keep. That worksheet from Middlest’s math unit number seven: recycle. That largely unused bottle of Pledge rolled under the couch: shelve. But what about the people in your life? What do you do with them?
I recently read a status update that made me cock my head to the side and ponder. There are some folks who cut loose relationships at the first sign of rough water. And some just scooch folks aside to make more room for the newcomers. Me, I’m neither I suppose. I don’t consider myself to have many friends. Scads of acquaintances, boatloads of people I like and enjoy their company, but friends? Its a very small list. And when I look back, its always been that way. There just aren’t that many folks in my inner circle — that circle of people I could call at 3 am.
Is this a flaw or a feature? I’m not sure but I do believe it is a side effect of life.
How many times have you met someone whose company you really enjoy only to find them sliding away like two ships passing in the proverbial night? If you are like me, this happens over and over. People come and go in my life and while I quite like them, they slip away.
What causes that? Am I a lazy friend? I don’t think so. But I do think that where I am right now, at this point in my life, it is harder to grow and keep my circle of friends than ever before.
As a kid, I didn’t have many friends because letting folks into my circle meant trusting them with my heart. It was easier to collect a group of acquaintances just outside my facade than to actually open the door. I would wait to open the door until I felt like I knew what would happen. And while this was a good coping strategy to keep from being hurt, it created a bad habit. A habit of waiting too long. Like a fisher who waits too long to set the hook, a great many people came and went from my life without me acting quickly enough to pull them in.
Luckily, there were a few who nibbled long enough and they are my dear friends. People whose phones I could call at 3 am, or couches I could crash upon if needed, or providers of a hug and listening ear. Friends.
But what about all the folks who slipped past, who changed the current of my life with their wake? I think of them now as I dust my furniture and vacuum the couch cushions. I think of smiles and stories and time. And I wonder.
But mostly I make a decision. Not only will I vacuum the couch cushions more often, but I will be a better fisher of friends. And when people come into my life that make me smile and feel alive, I will open my net, draw them in and try to keep them near. Or I will at least try.
Summer is ending which means this part of the country will be heading indoors against the rain all too soon. I hope that this fall will be the one where I see more people, meet more friends for coffee, smile with more people who matter, and laugh much more often. The time is right to keep people from slipping away and instead, let them in. The time is right to open the doors to my heart and tell folks to scooch over and make room for the newcomers.
I am reminded of Biggest when he was about three years old. We were having a meeting at our house and were expecting many people. He was standing at the top of the stairs as Mister Soandso greeted people at the door. Biggest shouted, his face lit up with a big smile, “Come on in everybody! We’ve got snacks!” At three years of age he knew the secret. Invite people in and offer them something.
In my case, here I am. Let me pour you a cup of coffee or tea or wine or ice water and get you a snack. Tell me about your day, I’m listening. Let us both be rekindled by the experience.
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” ~ Albert Schweitzer