Emerson and Thoreau

Ever have a conversation with a close friend or family member and even though you asked them about their life, their job, what was new, a recent vacation or exciting experience, how their family was, maybe how they’re doing despite a difficult circumstance, etc etc etc, you didn’t get asked that in return? 

I feel I’ve experienced this a lot lately, especially if I’m going through a hard or stressful time, it’s almost like it’s just easier for people to avoid the obvious and talk about something trivial than to really look into your eyes and just say, “How are you?” Do they hear you asking questions and realize they aren’t doing the same? Are they oblivious to it or do they maybe simply not want to? Friendship should be an interchange. 

I understand for myself, I’m a talker, so maybe it comes more naturally to me to ask questions and want to know details about people’s childhoods, their likes and dislikes, etc. Maybe others think it’s nosy? But if you are close with someone, what’s wrong with trying to get closer, digging in deep? Is there a disconnect there as humans because we are naturally selfish creatures? Do we just forget? Or maybe the people that love me don’t love me enough to really care to ask, or find out the answer? Perhaps because the answer might be long, or sad, uninteresting in their opinion, make them uncomfortable, or maybe just an answer that they don’t particularly want to hear. 

Or perhaps because you have a smile on your face and are gregarious they just assume everything is ok? Do seemingly strong people deserve to be penalized because they don’t necessarily wear their emotions on their sleeve or aren’t as fragile in nature as others might outwardly be? I have especially found this to be true after suffering from miscarriages, people feel that you “seem fine” so why talk about it, or they feel uncomfortable, don’t want to pry, or maybe even say, “I didn’t want to say the wrong thing or remind you of it.” When you go through something traumatic, unfortunately you don’t forget it, so nothing someone says is going to make you think, “Oh, I forgot that happened, thanks a lot for reminding me.” And I would rather someone say the “wrong thing” with good intentions than not say anything at all, then you just feel ignored.

And then you’ll find those few people who send you a thank you card when you’ve done something thoughtful, or balloons and chocolate covered strawberries, (you know who you are) just because they know you had a crappy day, or they text, call, or simply hug you at just the right time and ask, “Are you ok?” Does that mean they love you more than those who don’t ask? Or that they’re just a better friend? Or more compassionate? I don’t know the answer. 

But what I do know is that you cannot control other people’s actions. But you can control your own. I recently watched a Whiteboard Animation video designed for children on making true friends. But no matter its target demographic, it made some very valid points. Think about yourself as you read the following and think, “Do I do this?” 

  • Look for a friend that makes you a better person. Now ask yourself, “Are my friends better people for having been around me?”
  • Listening is one of the best gifts you can give a person. Do you ask questions and then really listen? This means quietly allowing them to talk, without interruption, not even to offer what you may feel to be a helpful or obvious solution. More often than not, when we talk to someone about our problems, we already know what the solution is. That’s not why we’re talking in the first place, we’re talking because we need to vent to a kind listening ear, so shut up and listen!
  • Look for friends who are truly loyal and trustworthy. Am I?
  • Dont hold a grudge. Let it gooooo…❄️That’s a hard one, but definitely worth working at. 
  • Be there for them when they need you most, even if they don’t ask. Sometimes we can’t ask, “What can I do?” or, “Let me know if you need something” because we’ll be turned down. Don’t ask, just do. 
  • Truly take a sincere personal interest in others. Do I do that? What would my friends say?

It’s true, love covers a multitude of sins, and we are all certainly riddled with sin. But should we just be complacent with that fact, resigned to staying how we are, just because we’re imperfect?  Ralph Waldo Emerson (a great example of a good friend, as he not only befriended and mentored Henry David Thoreau, but gave him the land at Walden Pond upon which he built his humble cabin and was thus inspired to write some of his very best work) said, “The only way to have a friend is to be one“. With that in mind, I’m determined to try and be the best friend I can be, I hope you do the same! 


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