Google + circles. Facebook friends. Twitter followers. We have so many places to cultivate friendships and relationships. Lots of ways to share what is happening in our lives, photos of our children, and updates about what fabulous thing we might have had for dinner on a trip. But what about the deeper relationships? The ones that withstand time and the ups and downs in life?
Running around Burke Lake, one of my favorite local running trails, I was reminded of the idea of social circles and friendships over the years. I have run the loops around Burke Lake for eleven years on and off, as often as three times a month and as infrequently as once every six months…but the loop stays the same. Every time I go back, I see some of the same faces. Faces that have been there every single Sunday for all these years. Other times I see new faces. Faces of new families walking together, or new runners training for their first race. The faces and stories of those that are on the trail change…but the lake…the uphill at the 1.5 mile mark and again at the 3.5 mile mark…those stay the same.
As I ran I thought about the circles of friends in my life. The circles that I see often, and the others that have changed over time. I have my “close to me when I was sick” circle. My “first marriage” circle. My “separated circle.” My “teaching friend” circle. My “running” circle. My “Italian” circle. My “social media” circle.
Each of those circles is like a loop around the lake for me. Each has a special place in my heart and in my memories, but each is different. Some have withstood time, relationships, pregnancies, and life like the curves in the trail, zig and zag the same way after all these years. Others have not, like the tree trunks of trees that have not lasted, that mark the loop around the path.
The circles or relationships that have lasted, are those where there is comfort and understanding. The relationships where I can see someone on skype and know that it is ok if I don’t ping them…no offense will be taken, no judgement made. I see those faces as I run my loop. Like the comfort of knowing which parts are harder or easier for my tired legs, or like the dramatic vista when the trail opens up to the wide expanse of the lake.
The ones that are harder are like the roots that have been unearthed on the trail that sometimes cause me to trip or miss a step. Truth be told, I could be those roots, trying to connect on occasion but not doing enough to be anything more than a blip on the radar. Honestly, I am not a great friend. I know that my effort can be lackluster at times (or often) and that in many ways I am much more of an introvert than I ever realized. Maybe that is why I like running in circles around the same lake year after year, partaking in moments of comfort, alone at my own pace, acknowledging familiar faces with a smile or small wave.
It is not as though I feel good about the passing of those circles or relationships. My heart aches and my emotions tug knowing that what once was so important and heartfelt has suffered a slow passing, like those trees that over time have had to be cut down. As hard as it is to explain or rationalize, life happens, and our circles do change. Even if we can find fault in the efforts of one, there is no real fault in the evolution or dissolution of our circles.
I recently heard someone say that despite being busy and overwhelmed….we need to make time for those that are important in our lives. And while I agree that effort does need to be made, I also disagree. Because sometimes, it is all we can do to smile and wave…and that has to be ok. It has to be enough. We should not have to feel bad or feel guilty.
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I should be making every last ditch effort to salvage, to resurrect, and to rekindle…but I also know that as much as I am the root that disrupts the path, others are the weather that has helped erode the earth on the trail. Instead of blaming or getting angry, I accept this erosion as a natural cycle of life. It happens.
What about you? Who is in your circle?
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