This gem of a line, I think first delivered to me after being dumped by a boyfriend in std 8, came to mind today. You know the one, “people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.” It is usually told to you by someone trying to console you, trying to remind you that everything always works out ok in the end. Often followed by “give it time, time heals” or similar.
The saying goes that when you figure out which it is (a reason, season or a lifetime), you’ll know what to do. But really? Is it as simple as meeting someone (“hey, howz’t”) and then knowing exactly how they going to fit in to your life?
Friends. You meet them along the way, you hit it off, overnight besties sometimes. You think you are inseparable. You in fact are inseparable. And then, the unimaginable. You separate. No one did anything… That you know of. But one moment you’re growing old with someone, and the next, you’re only chatting once every three months, and then less. Your lives take on different directions or courses. There was no hurt, no betrayal to damage it… And when you met, there was no need to be fulfilled. It just was. And then it wasn’t.
Same goes for those ones that do hang around for a lifetime. I’ve been friends with two girls since I was about three (no exaggeration I swear). They are like sisters to me. I wouldn’t say they know everything I’m currently thinking (quite the contrary as they both live in London and as much as Skype, iMessage and whatsapp are great – you don’t tell them when you’ve had a shit day and mostly just tell them about the great weather in Cape Town. They’re weather buddies) – they will always be in my life. They are definitely the lifetime people. But hell, I didn’t know that when I was three. So I certainly didn’t commit to extra hours of playtime on the fort at “happy days”. It just sort of happened. They stuck around. In fact, they’ll still be around when I’m 90.
When I first moved to London, I was great friends with a girl I worked with. We (if the legend is correct) even shopped together – which is fairly unbelievable as I don’t really do the shopping thing, but the fact that I did – and with her, says something about the level of friendship we’re talking about. And then we went our separate ways – both on paths of travel, down an aisle and eventually back to sunny SA where (6 years later) we ran into each other again. This year, I celebrated Christmas at her house – we are those best friends again. What happened in between, or why we took the break we did for the time that we did – noone really knows. We both thought we were the seasonal friend to each other, turns out we’re going to be the lifetime friend.
I was recently asked if I knew it was going to be serious when I met my (now) husband. I really don’t think I knew. I was 19. If I had put him in the lifetime box then… He probably would’ve run a mile. Hell, I would’ve run a mile.
On that note though, it feels that as adults, we feel the need to put every encounter into it’s box. Know before it starts what the meaning of it is. Categorise people as we meet them – are we going to be occasional friends, acquaintances, the create-a-party-friends, the real friends. I realise that in today’s day and age, where time is a scarce commodity and the friendships and relationships that already exist need all the investment we can possibly afford, we like to know exactly where new individuals are going to fit in. Is it worth the extra investment if they’re really not going to hang around? Or if I’m not?
But what if nothing is wrong, there is no need or silent prayer to be answered. No sharing, growing or learning that you’re after. What if, reasons or seasons, just don’t apply to some people. Or worse, what if you commit to believing that someone belongs in a category and it turns out you’re wrong. Is it really as simple as fobbing a situation or friendship off to a category just to make peace with the level of effort you invest in it.
Have I talked in circles? I usually do.
I’d like to reword this saying:
Sometimes people come into your life for a reason, a season, a lifetime… or a combination of the three. Life is fluid, and as you grow the people around you grow too. Some that start out just popping in to answer a question or silent prayer may be the ones that stick around for a lifetime. The ones that have always been there that you commit to growing old with, may be the ones that land up leaving or being left behind.
What remains true is to accept the lesson as it happens, love the person for each role that they play as they play it or continue to play it and put what you learn to use.
Its far less inspirational, yes. But its the truth. You never know what you’re going to get.