Monday, April 6, 2009

Life and Death

Chad and I attended the memorial for a friend today. He passed away just before Christmas, but his family wanted to wait till spring for the memorial.

Andrew Gumprecht was a wonderful man. Only 33 years old, but he managed to touch the lives of many in his role as a bartender. He told amazing stories and charmed everyone who met him. He had a big smile and an infectious laugh. The memorial today made me wish I had known him better. His family and closest friends shed a bright light onto the person he was and, to be honest, I feel a bit cheated that he was taken from us before I got the chance to know him better.

His death has also made me consider my own mortality. Why do I waste time with things that make me unhappy? Why do so many of us do that every day? Why don't we tell the people we love that we love them every chance we get? Why do we hesitate to open ourselves up to the people we want to be close to? What the hell are we afraid of? Getting hurt, I suppose. But I contend that it would hurt more to lose the chance to get close to someone you care about than it would if you were to open up and have it not reciprocated. At least then you'd know you made the effort to open up your heart and you wouldn't regret the fact that your didn't take the risk.

I would imagine most people have read/heard The Dash. It's a poem that basically states that it's not about the day of your birth or the day of your death. It's about the dash that's in between. I want to make the most of my dash. I don't want to waste time with petty bullshit. I want to forgive and forget and move on. While I want to recognize and address my anger and sadness, I don't want to dwell on those emotions. I want to focus on my happiness. I want to surround myself with people I love who love me in return - people who love me for ME, not the person they want me to be or think I should be.

Of course, we're all painfully aware that we have no idea how much time we have on this earth. No big surprise there. But I hope to make the most of every day I have here. I want to make "Carpe Diem" my mantra again, as it once was. Nothing ventured, nothing gained... and all those other painful cliches that prove to be true time and time again. I refuse to let the opportunity to express my love and admiration for those around me pass me by.

So, if you already know I love you, you'd better get ready for lots of hugs and kisses and "I love yous." And if you don't already know I love you, you're going to find out very soon. : )

"Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did." ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

"May you live all the days of your life."
~Jonathan Swift

"All I can say about life is, Oh God, enjoy it!" ~Bob Newhart

That's What You Call Friendship?

In the last few months, I've had some weird issues with "friends" and I've come to the conclusion that often friendships end because the two parties involved define friendship in different ways and those two different ways don't mesh. In other words, one believes in the give and take of friendship, and the other just wants to take.

Take, for instance, a "friendship" that peaked in the fall and winter of this past year. There was a woman who Chad had worked with at a past job. They'd become friends and she'd come to the occasional party over the past 4 years. Then during the summer she became more connected to us through work connections.

She and I really hit it off. She was closer to Chad's age than mine (no big surprise, because with the exception of a few recent additions to our friendship circle, our friends are typically closer to Chad's age) but she and I were very similar in a lot of ways - similar senses of humor (often a bit crass), passionate, goofy, etc. One major difference was our level of confidence and stability. I am certainly by no means the most confident person (I am well aware of my faults) but her confidence seemed to revolved solely around her appearance and the attention she was getting from men. Which, in all honesty while I don't thrive off it, I completely understand - who doesn't like to look good and get attention? Anyone who says they don't is LYING.

I spent a lot of time helping her through a rough relationship that included mental and emotional abuse. I really cared about her and wanted things in her life to be good. I was willing to help her in nearly any way I could to make that happen.

Anyway, she crossed a line with our friendship in mid-fall. It definitely could have been a deal breaker. I was pretty upset about it and, as anyone who has the full details of the situation would tell you, I had every right to be. But she apologized and I bought it so we dove right back into the friendship where we had left off.

Next she "fell" for another friend of mine. Because I care deeply for both parties involved, I spent lots of time counseling her about how to handle the situation with him. (Chad would tell you that this is my first mistake - I often insert myself where/when I shouldn't. And perhaps he's right, but it's the way I operate nonetheless. I never force it, but when asked, I am happy to throw my two cents in.)

Right around the holidays, she got mad at Chad about something work related that he had absolutely no control over. At which point, she essentially stopped talking to me. I called her several times to see if she was OK and got literally one word answers to my questions. Then when we heard from several mutual friends that she was saying a lot of really negative and untrue things about Chad, I stopped calling/texting/messaging to check on her.

So here's the short version of the end of the friendship... she un-friended me from Facebook. Stupid, I know, that THAT is what would piss me off to the point of blogging about it, but that's how I feel. And she actually did it along time ago, it just took me this long to get over the initial anger. I mean, seriously. You are 42 years old and that's how you are going to deal with this? You can't call me and talk to me like an adult?

I realize I am better off without someone so draining in my life, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.

After all this, I really felt compelled to take a look at my friendships and evaluate them. I believe that friendships should be mutually beneficial - you give and, when needed, you take. I am really trying now to only put effort into the friendships with the people who have put effort into the friendship with me. I'm at a point in my life when I don't have time or energy to waste. Plus I am surrounded by a lot of amazing people who are truly more like family than friends. THOSE are the people who deserve my time and energy, not some random people who are trying to suck the life out of me.

While I'm still sad/mad about the way things turned out with this friendship, I wouldn't change it if I could. It took this for me to see her true colors. And as I have always said... things happen for a reason.