Friendships are Ephemeral
Friendships are ephemeral
When we were younger, we had friends that were involved in every aspect of our lives. We knew everyone in their families, what sports they liked to play, what subjects they were good at in school and even what foods they liked to eat. More often then not, we spent as much times in their homes as we did in our own.
On the crowded dead end street of Seneca Parkside, in South Buffalo, New York, dinner time was usually the sorting out period when each child was cut out from the herd and sent home to dinner with their own families. Occasionally, we would forget to tell our parents that we were staying over at some one’s house for dinner or even the night. A few anxious phone calls usually straightened all of that out until the final tally had everyone tucked safely in their beds for the night.
It was the quality of friendship then that I much remember and think fondest of. There was no thought of taking advantage of someone for an imagined gain. And if someone did fall into disfavor, it was usually a temporary state. Grudges were something unknown to us until we were taught about them later in life.
In high school, it got more difficult because dating and interacting with people of the opposite sex complicated our simple existence. Still, there existed a bond of brotherhood or sisterhood amidst all of the urchins who streamed in and out of the nearby high schools. Oh, there was always some backbiting and bickering going on. Children after all will always act like children. But usually, the squabbles were of a trivial nature and good relations were soon established again.
I think it was after high school when all of this started to change. Some guys went off to the trying experience of war, some went off to college. The key factor here is distance. For the first time, many of us were no longer intimately aware of all of the goings on in the lives of people we had once known so well. With physical distance, there is emotional distance. Differing life situations meant meeting other people from all walks of life. We were each of us subtly changing though we knew it not at the time.
Marriage, parenting and career demands further divided us. We had lots of other things to watch out for and concentrate on. Once fast friendships began to fall into that “yesterday category” of things we remembered fondly from long ago. Occasionally, we would encounter friends from long ago and pass along the greetings and small chatter that one does in polite society. But, it was never the same as it once was.
Time, illness, death and life events had changed all of us into different people. In some the changes are attractive. They had become more serious and more caring because of misfortunes in their own lives. In others, the vagaries of life had bred an anger and a bitterness at the seeming inequities of life and fortune.
As we drift in and out of lives we had once known so well, there is sadness at a quality of friendship now long gone and forgotten. But as adults, we have to realize that everyone else has children, grandchildren and others for whom they are responsible. It isn’t as easy for any of us now as it was when we were children. Maybe we have to slip back into that whole childish mode, where we forgave and forgot any perceived insults and slights so quickly. Unless some one really injures you or your family, what other serious damage have they really done that we can’t shrug, brush off and say “fogggedddabouddittt!?”
I like to think that we all should follow one of the most estimable of life’s parables, that of the golden rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. “ It is a simplistic approach to life, but a powerful one. The whole concept of “paying it forward,” “helping others” and “doing good deeds “ springs from this simple approach to life. And from amity amidst individuals grows harmony amidst our larger society and even felicity of relations with other nations. All things are possible if we forgive and forget.
And today, whenever I see two or three children playing together and shrieking in laughter about something silly, I look at them both fondly and ruefully, wondering how and if I can ever again capture that unbridled joy that children have and express so well. Friendships, like those we knew in childhood, should be forever.
Tomorrows as the Scarlet O’Hara character in “Gone With The Wind” exclaims hopefully, is “another day.” Maybe we can all start over and find friends like those we knew so very long ago. Lord, I hope so.
Joseph Xavier Martin