Over the last several months or so I have been thinking about the people in my life. Not my family so much those who I have met along the way in my life.
I know I have not been alone in thinking about these connections for the better part of a year. We all have become exhausted with news and social media particularly amplified by reality politics and an unending pandemic. Our connections with others and who we stay connected with have seemingly become more introspective if not crucial for our individual sanity and spirit.
Last winter before the pandemic sent us into lockdown, I continued my minimalization of our downstairs stuff that we have stowed in boxes and plastic bins over the years. My husband, Vinny Sal would say that I have enough yarn to open my own yarn shop. I admit I have quite a yarn stash. I sorted yarn by unfinished projects, whole skeins, and partial skeins that were rolled into balls. At the end of my sorting, I had one large moving box of odds and ends of assorted colors, textures, and weights of yarn balls in varying colors.
Fast forward to this past fall, I decided to crochet an afghan using all the yarns balls in that large moving box. In other words, someone kept needling me…
“What are you going to do with all that yarn?”
I needed something mindless to do anyway to divert my attention from work, the world, COVID-19, and especially leukemia.
When I was growing up my grandmother had taught me to knit and crochet. She had crocheted an afghan from her odds and ends of yarn. I remember marveling at all the colors and tracing my finger over the softest rows and my favorite colors. Thinking of my grandmother’s afghan of many colors brought me comfort and so I set out to crochet my own colorful afghan just like hers using every ball of yarn in that large moving box. Within a no time, I had crocheted an afghan that was the size of a king-size bedspread.
I noticed while crocheting my afghan that I indeed had hues of many colors, but my favorite one was of course, blue. And as I changed to a different color yarn after each row, I began to look forward to crocheting with the same texture or weights of some yarn more than others. Although they made the afghan colorful and interesting, I was glad when I no longer had to crochet with certain scratchy yarns and the ball had finally run out.
As I was crocheting, I began thinking about the people I met throughout my life and how I became connected to them – school, college, various places of employment, clients, neighbors, church, and so on, and how different they were from one another. I meet people almost every day in my life (perhaps not now in COVID-19 lockdown). Some people have stay connected with me for years. And like many of you, I had reconnected with people from throughout my life on social media.
Social media commands by virtue of their platform to think of these connections as friends. Yet many of these connections are merely acquaintances. I may have thought of them as friends as some point in my life like in primary school or some distant past employment, but are they really what you or I would consider a friend?
I thought about how these friends or acquaintances fit into my history. Often the reason for my reconnecting was thinking of them in view of that history, of a familiar time, or nostalgically hoping of the same or different outcome of that memory of a time or place. It is an impossibility because neither one of us is the same person now than when we met each other. Life experiences, whether we moved from our hometowns as I did to explore other places or others who stayed believing their hometown as home, have shaped us in form or another. Or perhaps we moved on to different careers and employers, nonetheless, we remained connected.
We cannot expect the person we knew then to be the same person now.
Was it the expectation that a person be the same person when we met them that has caused frustration, disappointment, even anger at these friends who are simply now an acquaintance? While we all catchup laughingly with each other at old times and/or how we met, these connections sometimes result in silence, un-friending, or an un-follow in social media terms because of current world views or simply because the connection ran its’ course. This can either be hurtful or a relief since sometimes these reconnections came about either as sense of obligation or merely being polite.
Acquaintance or a friend?
A true friendship in my opinion is more than a connection. It is a relationship where we share similar values and a sense of belonging. A true friendship for me is one where we feel comfortable sharing ourselves with each other without fear of rejection or reprisal. We will not agree on everything, but it will not keep us from valuing each other as a friend.
An acquaintance is a connection.
A friendship is a relationship.
When I look back on my life, I can look at my tapestry of connections – acquaintances and friendships and know that each one irrespective of how long their presence was woven into my life played a part in who I am as a person. I was connected to them for a reason or a purpose. I know I have been blessed by each one of my connections even if some these people are friends who have become acquaintances, or acquaintances who have now become friends.
Defining my connections.
When I wrap up in my colorful king-size afghan, I remind myself that when I am unsure of whether a connection deserves my personal time and attention that the people who deserve it are the ones who consistently behave as if they are grateful to have it. My friends are the many shades and textures of yarn that I can lovingly trace in my life.
The Blogging Owl
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