Friendship Deflation

There is little in my life that I value more than friendships. I do my best to treat my friends in a manner that lets them know how much I value them and try to make sure I put my friends first. If I am your friend, there is little that I will not do for you. I have no problem prioritizing you and will gladly inconvenience myself for you. I am not trying to brag, but I think people who know me would vouch for this.

It gets me in trouble sometimes. Life moves and friendships naturally fade and sometimes just run their course. I have a very hard time accepting this and often let it bother me too much. At it’s heart, I think the issue is that I place friendships at such a high value.

This is why I am so pained to see how the value of friendship has been so deflated in the past week. Fair warning. Some of you may want to stop reading here. There will be no editing. No re-phrasing or re-wording. No editing for structure. I’m typing, saving, and publishing whatever I write next.

It is killing me to see so many friendships ended over the election.  Personally, I have lost not a single friend.  My candidate is not in office. I am scared and disappointed. Most of my friends voted along my lines, so I am not in direct conflict with them.

However, I see the hate that is thrown all over my social media feeds and conversations. I hear the horrible generalizations that are made about people who voted differently. Regardless of whether or not they are true, they are terrible things to be throwing at people who you have had personal relationships with.  Friendships are ending. And a lot of it is coming from people with whom I agree. I agree with them politically. I am as dumbfounded as they are and understand most of the angry memes, cartoons, and rants but can not get behind destroying friendships.

What is worse than the pain I feel for my country is the pain I feel when I realize, “If I had filled in a different bubble, I would have lost friends.”  Years of friendship, good times, bad times, conversations, tears, sacrifice and comfort would have been lost based on a vote.  To me, it’s not worth it. My grieving after this election has not been about the result but for the realization that the value of many of my relationships is much lower than I realized. It kills me to see a friend destroying another friend and realizing, “All I would have had to do is vote differently and that would have been me.” That’s it. Done. All that work and effort into cultivation a relationship… gone.

When you fight fire with fire, everyone burns.

I do not want to talk about the election anymore because all I can think about is how many friendships it has destroyed.  In four years this will change, but right now I can not even imagine myself voting in the next election. Not because of political apathy, disrespect for my rights, or a feeling a helplessness but more so because it feels like that tiny little ink bubble is a poison pill to something that I value above almost everything. Friendship.

I have lost not a single friend because of this election but I realize that is largely because I happen to vote in a manner that did not upset my friends. That literally depresses me.  Please do not politicize this. Please do not use it to support a view you may have. Please do not interpret this a political apathy. Do not take this a plea to simply move on. I am not asking anyone to ignore what is happening  Interpret this as the ramblings of a sad man who is watching friendships end and realizing they could easily be his.

Interpret as a plea for everyone to stop being such dicks.  If you are spewing hate because you feel empowered by the results. Stop being such a dick. If you are running around insulting your friends and making horrible generalizations about them because of their votes. Stop being such a dick.

To my friends. I love you.  I have always known about your political opinions and I have chosen to love you because of, or in spite of, them. I have yet to look at a friend and say, “I am surprised you voted that way.” My time with you and my relationship with you is way more important than what you did last week.  I refuse to hate you or lose you. I place way too much of a value on friendship but am deeply saddened that so many feel differently.

I am sorry if I have offended anyone. I am sorry if I have thrown a log on someone’s fire of furthered their point. I apologize if this is rambling, incoherent, poorly written and filled with typos. I am not going even re-read what is above. I am sorry if I am flat out wrong.

Do what you need to tomorrow. Call politicians. Be active. Fill my Facebook feed with articles.  I probably agree with most of them.  However, make sure you are stopping to love your friends. Don’t let your fervor burn relationships that have been so carefully built.  Don’t deflate the value of friendship. Just love.  Please?

 

 

 

 

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THE Day

It was not supposed to go down like this.  There is a bead of sweat rolling down the side of my face as I realize I have made a terrible mistake from which I am not sure I can recover. Staring across the ping-pong table from me is a grim-faced eleven-year old boy who is flexing his knees and taking every shot seriously now.  He thinks today is going to be the day.  He thinks today is the day he takes down his old man.  I have always let him stay close before pulling it out at the end but today I regret that. I have intentionally flubbed a bunch of shots but a few errors on my part (and great shots on his) has left me three points from losing.  He thinks today is the day.

“They” say the happiest and saddest day in every boy’s life is the day that he realize he can beat his father. Video games do not count. It is the day a boy can beat his father at some physical activity.  It is the happiest day because the boy realizes that he is growing up and becoming a man.  However, at the same time the boy suddenly has to face the fact that his dad is not a mythical, invincible deity, but simply a man. A man who is starting to lose the fight with Father Time.  Essentially, the boy kills his hero.

I vividly remember my day. In middle school, I was fast. I was very fast. At an extended family gathering, I mentioned this and my dad made some comment about keeping me in my place.  Not thinking he would ever accept, I challenged him to a race. To my shock, he accepted and my aunts and uncles, and cousins, and grandparents all headed out to the street to watch.  I trudged through the yard already embarrassed because I knew there was no way I could beat my dad. I just never thought he would accept the challenge and now I was going to look dumb. My mom even pulled me aside and said, “Why are you doing this? You know you can’t win. You’re still a boy.”  I knew she was right and I knew that I had put myself in position that I was going to be hearing about for a long time.

At the start line, my dad looked down at me and said, “We are only doing this once. This is you’re only shot. No excuses” I nodded and got ready.  My entire family was out there and my uncle started the countdown.  “On your mark.”  Deep breath.  “Get Set…..” and my old man cheated. He was three strides down the street before I realized I had to move. This was my one shot and I started from behind.

I remember going as hard as I could. I also remember feeling a bit puzzled at how quickly I made up the “head-start.” I was surprised at the half-way point when  I was a couple strides ahead of him and feeling like I had not really even hit my stride. I was in a little disbelief by how much I won by and how I eased up a little at the end because it did not feel right.  Later, I snuck back out there and stared at the street. I was elated because I knew I could out-run grown men and I had beaten my dad. At the same time, there was an odd sense of disappointment and general weirdness. I was too young to put words on it, but later I realized it was the sadness “they ” say every boy feels when he beats his dad. Sad that his hero is really just a man who is starting to get older.

And now Ben thinks today is the day.  I can see it in his eyes. He is not jabbering about Pokemon anymore.  He is not talking about soccer. He has stopped trying to do fancy shots.  The only smile I see is the smile he is desperately fighting to stifle every time he scores. Ben thinks he is three points away from something special.

I know it’s not the day because I have intentionally let him stay close and then made some mistakes. It still takes effort to make the game close without making it obvious that I am tanking.   However, he does not know this. The scoreboard does not know this. The scoreboard says the day is three points away.

I know the day is coming. It is inevitable.  I will feel proud and a little sad.  He will be elated with a weird feeling he can not pin-point.  When that day comes, I want it to be real. For him and me.

I have three points left to make sure I push the day back. Fortunately, Ben is eleven-years-old and is starting to choke. All I have to do is keep the ball on the table and he screws up two points.  On the third point, I put a ton of backspin on my shot and watch his little dreams crumble as he bashes the ball into the net.

He drops his paddle, falls to his knees with a huge smile and yells, “Nooo!”  Ben gets to his feet laughing and gives me a huge hug.  “Dad! I almost beat you!  I thought I was really going to do it today!”

“Yeah buddy. It was close!  You will get me some day.  Today is just not the day.”

The day?”

“Don’t worry about it. You’ll know it when it gets here.”

**Addendum:.  My dad read this blog and recalls our race.  He told me today that he knew the only way he stood a chance was by cheating.

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