A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime

photo_hands-1They say that people come into your lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

It seems like it has been more “reason” and “season” than lifetime for the last little while. And it’s those I thought were lifetime that are really throwing me for a loop.

Relationships that I thought would always be there, but for whatever reason, seem to have run their course.

People who I thought had my back, but who really don’t.

Love that is conditional.

What does it say about them? What does it say about me? Why does it happen? Have I changed? Have they changed? Or is this just the natural flow of life and relationships, and I have trouble accepting that?

Lots of questions. Not many answers. And more questions.

What defines a relationship? What is the glue that makes it strong?

Is a shared past powerful enough to keep a relationship together? Or does it need ongoing maintenance and nurturing? Getting together with old friends is fun and nostalgic, but how many times can we recount the same stories over and over again? If the relationship is to continue to be meaningful and current, it feels like it needs more.

What about the ups and downs? The ups are easy. The downs, not so much—but how we navigate these speaks volumes about what you truly have together. The only way through the rough spots is when two people decide to work together—two people who care and are engaged, and who choose to do the dance of friendship together.

I have had, and continue to have many wonderful people in my life. Some I think will be brief, become meaningful. Some I think are forever, end up not being that.

And some of them crush me. The ones I think are rock solid that aren’t. How fragile they are, and how little it takes to break them. This is what surprises me the most.

The intense feeling of loss makes me feel untethered, as do all the emotions that come with it: anger, hurt, betrayal, sadness, abandonment, devastation, and despair. Why are they so hard to let them go? Is it because my expectations are too high? Or because I imagine them to be more than they actually are?

To me, relationships are ultimately about two people who, to varying degrees, care about and appreciate each other. Two people who somehow make the other one better, and are willing to put in the time and do the work to try to understand and help each other.

For most of my life I have fought to save relationships at all costs. But that’s changing. It takes two people to make a relationship work—we’re in it together or we’re not. And perhaps there are other changes taking place as well. My tolerance for bullshit is dropping. My idea of what it takes to maintain a good relationship is evolving. And maybe I am starting to realize, albeit begrudgingly, that some relationships have simply run their natural course.

There are very few I can count on to be truly forever. In the end, everyone is temporary and everything ends. There is an ebb and a flow, and the reality of life is that people come and go.

As hard as it is, I cannot allow myself to continue to be crushed them. It messes up my head and makes me sick. I know deep down that what I must learn to do is appreciate the “reason” or the “season” I have been given with them, think about what I may need to change moving forward, let them go, and wish them well. And carry in my heart the good they have brought to my life.

I need to stop resisting, trust that things are as they were meant to be, hope that the pain and anguish will fade, and that eventually I will feel some measure of peace.

I need to get out of my own way.

But it sure ain’t easy.

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Out of Africa–On Education

261Over the next few weeks, I will post a few lingering thoughts from my recent trip to Mozambique, Africa. That trip changed me, and I find some aspects of re-adjusting to “normal” life quite challenging. That unsettled, disconnected feeling is back. I will write more about this later, when what’s behind it is clearer, but for now I will focus on things I seem to have a firmer grasp on.This first one is on education.

Lack of education I think is the basis for most of the problems in Mozambique, as it is in all countries, developing or otherwise. Education is the only way path to a better future. And that means a quality education, with well-trained, fairly paid teachers. They play a critical role in forming the next generation, and yet we continue to attach so little importance and worth to them. I can think of no better definition of “short-sighted.”

Education should not only teach you about things, it should also teach you how to think. It should teach you to ask questions. It should teach you to see things differently, beyond your own narrow scope, and to consider bigger issues and implications. It helps make you a global citizen. Education makes you more employable, which means you have a chance to earn a better living. It makes you less dependant. It opens up options, which makes you less desperate. And desperation makes people dangerous.

Education changes everything at the source, and I believe this is where most of our energy and resources should be channeled.

Finding Peace

If you ask me to boil down everything I desire into one statement, I would say without a doubt that finding peace is it. Seems to me that everything else would take care of itself if I had a peaceful head and heart. A peaceful being. 

I have been thinking alot about this lately, and was inspired by a line I read about a week ago in Thomas Ross’ blog Only Here Only Now…and it’s been rolling around in my head ever since.

“The peace is there always.  We need only the strength to receive it.”

What a revelationt! It’s ALWAYS there! There is reassurance in simply knowing it’s there, even though I may not experience it as much as I would like. But how can I uncover it, or find the strength to receive it?

Every person you ask would likely have a different path to peace, and there is no end to the self-help advice and tips out there to help you find it. But for me, I think it comes down to our earthly concept of time–past, future, and present.

If I can finally accept my past, and not allow it to govern who I am now, or who I will be tomorrow.

If I can allow myself not to worry about the future, to not waste energy on that which I cannot control.

If I can focus on being here, now–present, engaged, and in the moment.

Then peace will be mine.