I am the sort of person for whom friends have always been incredibly important. This is sometimes hard to reconcile with my perennial status as satellite friend, but I am the guy who has stayed in touch with people that he went to primary school with too.
Through the years my friends have rescued and assisted me from many situations and in ways that I could never have foreseen. Something I am eternally grateful for. The uniting common factor about these assists though is that it has almost always come from people that I did not expect it from. For me this is the best expression of the idea that, no matter what WE feel, people have their own agendas and motivations and will do as they please, thank you very much.
Travelling as I currently am, I have been thinking about this a lot as part of the ‘Home’ series of poems I am working on. What role do the people we know play in our lives and what does it mean? In my line of work I meet people every day, and always have. Sometimes these are idle and quick connections, others they develop into full blown friendships. They are randomised by context, location, intent and opportunity.
In the last few years I have been re-encountering people from my teenage years in many arenas. This has been the most interesting part of my journey. Friendships that were formed as I was forming. For example where I am now. The job I have, the tech I will take travelling and the house I am looking after are all assists from a friend I had at high school, Jan Joubert. And yet, at school, Jan and I were not mates. We knew each other. But our paths crossed post national service at university and we became much better mates, chased the same girls, did the same casual work and so on. And then we lost touch for like… 15 years?
We reconnected about 5 years ago, I visited him and his lovely wife when I was in the UK four or so years ago, and here we are. The generosity he and his family have shown me is, frankly, over-whelming. Given my current station in life: un-repayable. Just like much of the generosity shown to me all along my road from then to here. I am learning that, sometimes, you just need to show gratitude and give thanks because you just CAN’T repay the generosity and that repayment is not required, expected or wanted. It’s hard to just be grateful. Pride, ego, plans and habits all get in the way. You’ve just got to let people do what they want to do.
I know this because I sometimes struggle to just help people without them then feeling obliged to me. It’s happened. So I know, sometimes you just want to help. Being on the receiving end has been instructional!
This bout of travelling I am lining up has the potential to create more of these scenarios. Which why it is on my mind I guess. I will be re-connecting with a wealth of people, some of whom I have not seen in a very long time. There is a trite homily that claims you meet people “For a reason, season or a lifetime.” Well some of my friends I have known for a lifetime. That didn’t stop some of them from turning their backs on me, or me from turning mine on them. Others I have known for next to no time, yet they act as true and kind and thoughtful as if they were family. I am sure that many reasons will emerge from these encounters, reflecting the many seasons of my life and theirs. But one thing I do know, being who I am, there is still a lifetime of encounters in store with all of them.
Like much of what I am discovering lately, there IS a rhyme and reason. But mostly it is not one that is constructed out of my world view or opinions and I only begin to see the pattern emerge post the fact, not as I ‘visualise’ or ‘manifest’ my reality. I don’t doubt that I am doing both those things, but rather that what I think want and feel takes no account of others doing the same. It’s good to start to leave space for that. To stop being so rigid about what I want and let what we all want to emerge.
I hope to meet more people as I go. I am sure I will. I am looking to re-encounter people I know from way back. In short, I am very , very keen to slip the leash of my ego-based vision of my future and see what the world has in store for me now. THIS is what is driving my excitement to leave and travel right now.