Thursday, February 17, 2011

a little help from my friends

 ~The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow spearately without growing apart.~

The other day, one of my best friends reminded me that 'a true friendship is 'effortless'.  I was thinking about this tonight after staying late at work to talk with an amazing friend and then calling another dear friend while I was making dinner.  It seems funny to say something is 'effortless' when I obviously made the effort to stay at work 2 hours past my usual time to chat, or when I made the effort to balance the phone on my shoulder while chopping and cooking as Brynn put lipstick all over her mouth and discovered a sharpie marker. 

I don't think that 'effort' is the right word to describe the action of taking time for friends.  To me, 'effort' can sound somewhat negative, as though I'm being 'forced' to make the time for friends.  Don't get me wrong, in order to have successful friendships, you do need to make time for one another.  But, as friendships evolve, as life moves forward, as people go through various stages in their lives, a true friendship can maintain.  My friend is at a very different point in her life, as her children are grown and will soon both be in college.  Her evenings and weekends might not be filled with the same type of activities as mine, but her recognition and understanding of the current stage in my life is one of the things that makes our friendship so successful.  Sure, we spend time on the phone in the evenings when I'm home with the kids running around, but we have a definite purpose for doing so--to discuss, debrief, or de-stress from work.  Maintaining a friendship can take some work, some 'effort' if you will, to foster its growth and development over time.  But it shouldn't be work that is exhausting.  And true friendship shouldn't have a scoresheet attached to it.

There are so many types of friends, so many levels of friendship, and so many purposes for the different friends we have.  I think of the friends that I left behind when I moved from PA nearly 6 years ago.  There are several very, very dear friends with whom I don't touch base nearly enough.  I used to be so much better about picking up the phone to catch up.  I don't really wonder what happened to that time however, all I have to do is look around.  It's called life.  Two kids, a full-time job, and a few other budding hobbies on the side all while maintaining friendships and spending time on my marriage can put a limit on our humanly abilities.  I also consider where they are in their lives.  While some of my friends might not spend their time in the same way I do, it doesn't mean that they're not just as busy as I am. 

But then, every so often, when the time is right...we connect.  The game of phone tag ends with a 'hello', rather than a voice mail message.  And you know what?  It's like the time that's elapsed dissipates, and we fall back into a natural conversation.  It's effortless

I miss the time that I used to be able to devote to my friendships, but would never trade that in for the time I'm getting to spend with my kids as they grow up.  True friends will be there for you after you're finished the dishes, or kissing boo-boo's, or making cookies for your child's class.  It's not just because they've 'been there, done that' or are going through the same stage of life at the very same time, but because they value the friendship, they recognize what you have to offer to them and appreciate it, and they enjoy the time you spend together (even if it's only a few times a year and only via telephone).

True friendship really is effortless.  Friendship takes time, takes work, takes understanding, and acceptance.  But none of these things should be viewed as 'effort'.  They should be viewed as something you do because you want to, because you can do, and because you love that person. 

For now...I want to spend time with my absolute best friend in the world...

August, 2003

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