Excerpt, “Friends” from Noelle Sterne, Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams
We attract relationships with acquaintances and friends, like those with everyone else, to learn. If we don’t learn from one person, another with similar traits, quirks, and even hair color will materialize until we do. They’ll make us grow, nurture our sense of good, stretch our love—and teach us to forgive.
We should know, too, that only a few people are real friends. This is how I know: time passing between contacts makes not a speck of difference. Neither of you ever needs to make excuses.
No matter how much time has passed, both of you can hardly talk fast enough for everything you want to share. A friend I hadn’t heard from in six months summarized it perfectly. She wrote, “No apologies. Time between emails doesn’t matter. Friends are friends. Time between anything doesn’t matter.”
A lot of people are acquaintances. We have pleasantries, even closeness, but nowhere near the intimacy and rushing joy of being with a friend. Acquaintances don’t last as long as friends—there’s nothing solid that joins and sustains.
One day, neither one of you calls back. When the “use” of a certain person is complete, in our learning, receiving and giving, then that person fades from our lives.
We must be true to ourselves about whether they continue to nurture us or not.
As we grow in understanding and consciousness, some people drop off. If we try to resurrect a friendship like this, it’s usually stilted and uncomfortable. At the holidays, nostalgic, have you ever spontaneously phoned your high school best-friend-in-the-world you haven’t talked to in 30 years? What happens? Small talk, exchange of children head count, too many repetitions of “How the hell are you?” and “How great to hear your voice!” Sadly, you’ve got to admit the magic vanished, probably not long after the lockers got aired out.
A friend reminded me of the wisdom of that anonymous quotation: “Don’t worry about people from your past. There’s a reason why they didn’t make it to your future.” We need not feel guilty about how people weave in and out of our experience.
Forgive that former friend for no longer being your buddy. Forgive yourself for the lingering feeling of betrayed loyalty and your inability to recapture the old closeness and easy fun. You’ve both changed and grown in different ways, have traveled different roads, made different choices. Overlook the faults and memorized wrongs, be grateful for the former camaraderie and joy, and bless that friend for the help and affection you gave each other all during those old times.
Real friends, on the other hand, can feel more like family and are family to many of us. Although without blood ties, we often feel more connected to friends on more levels than to family. In fact, we often attract friends with qualities we wish our family members had.
Friends, of course, are the people we feel a soul connection with—we’re comfortable, relaxed, talkative, and unashamed of admitting our most secret thoughts. In addition to mightily enjoying their company, we unhesitatingly help them, and they do the same—like encouraging us in our ridiculous Dream.
From Noelle Sterne, Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams, pp. 135-137.
© 2014 Noelle Sterne