It’s a time we call ‘Thanksgiving’ in my part of the world, a time that is really quite Pagan, if you think about it, as it comes from giving thanks for the bounty of the land after the crops have been harvested for the winter. Everything in the market always looks so appealing at this time of the year that it gets my inspirational cooking juices flowing.
While I always feel particularly aware of Mother Nature in the autumn, I am feeling grateful on this holiday weekend for friendships. A friend of mine hasn’t been feeling contented with her looks lately and I was reassuring her that she looks fine. Sound like a platitude? I think it might have to her, although I meant it.
I meant it because I don’t look at people I care about with the same eyes as they use to look at themselves. I’ve been wondering about that. Why don’t I look at them that way? I often find myself narrowing my eyes at my reflection in the mirror and getting hypercritical. Why do I do it to myself and not to them?
Perhaps it’s because we fall in love with our friends. Yup – that’s what I said: ‘in love’. I don’t mean that we want to hop into bed with them; just that wanting to spend time with someone, listen to their joys and woes, isn’t just about being ‘kind’. I think we’re genuinely in love with some aspect of their character, their persona, their talent. It might be something that we wish we had and believe we don’t. It might be some shared passion, sense of humour or cause. Whatever it is, we love it.
And just as with the partner we choose to commit to in life, we may not love everything about them. Being in love doesn’t always mean being blind, especially if you’ve known the person for a long time. You can still get irritated or impatient with them, but overall you love the package, or you wouldn’t stick around. Of course I’m talking about healthy friendships.
There are plenty of unhealthy ones around; the ones who become the big screen where we project our disowned power, our unacknowledged weaknesses, our need for whatever we feel we are not, or aren’t allowed to be. Maybe you could call those the dysfunctional friendships that could do with a friendship equivalent of divorce.
As I give thanks for my friends, past and present, I suppose I must consider this latter group as well. Even if they aren’t presently in my life, they too served me, if only in the negative sense. Either they taught me something or I taught them, probably a little of both. At least I hope that’s what came out of it.
I was googling (funny how that’s a verb now) some old friends the other day and found a few. One was a girl who lived across the street from me in Montreal. I think I only knew her for about a year and a half, although in child years it felt longer. Even though we were a year apart, we walked to school together and swore to be one another’s bosom pals.
I found a picture of her on the web, and even found her email address, but I hesitated when it came to what to say. Do I need to say anything? Maybe it’s better for that friendship stay intact in my past, uncomplicated by who we have become. I loved her then, in the way that a child loves their bosom pal. That apple has already been polished.
I have some friends with whom I feel special, like that polished apple. When I have visited with them, or spoken to them on the phone, I feel like a more beautiful, more splendid, or talented person – my best self. I feel accepted, celebrated, a worthy contributor to their well being, uplifted. Perhaps this is the everyday equivalent of a standing ovation.
I wish we all saw ourselves through the eyes of our best friends. Perhaps we would be more contented with ourselves. It’s certainly cheaper than drugs and even better than vitamins to keep us healthy.
So, on this Thanksgiving, I give thanks for the wonderful balm of friendship.