Finding the Art in Everything

15 June, 2008

Seasons and Space

I have this theory about people. I think that they are only there for a season, then they move on and so do I. I take great delight in their company while I get to have it, but I never expect it to last, or even last long. It is how I have made peace with saying goodbye--that I will always have to say goodbye eventually.

There are a few impending goodbyes--some timely, some seem too early--that will bring me great sadness. There will be so much space when they go, the same great space they filled when they came. But it is in that they filled a great space that I have found comfort. I wasn't so sad for the goodbyes at graduation (the event that explains the month-long gap in my posting), because even though I won't have these students anymore, I will have others. Empty space doesn't stay that way for long.

This season-space theory is actually not that great a model, I don't think.

First, those who fill the space inevitably change the shape of it, so the in-and-out is much more painful than a simple swap. Second, I misread the weather and get the seasons wrong. Sometimes I am pretty sure big changes in circumstance mean big changes in relational seasons. But I have example after example of people who are significant figures in my life long after I expected them to depart from it:

  • I have a fellow Election 2000 political pundit--ideologically opposed, who has been my grounding force for nearly a decade and who is more relevant to me now, despite the distance, than he was when we were 2 miles apart.

  • I have a co-worker I only knew for a year--though that year was a tour of duty in public school--who still writes and calls every month or so. As a married man ten years my senior with a beautiful family, new job, and home in North Carolina, I am still startled to hear from him, but so grateful for his wisdom and encouragement.

  • I have another friend who moved to Nicaraugua when I moved to England, and but for 7 months when we returned, we haven't lived anywhere near each other in 6 years. I can sit with a cup of coffee as we talk on the phone, and it still feels like we have done that every day in person since we spoke last.

All of these have lasted, though, because these friends have often had more faith in our friendship than I have, and so they reach out more. I don't often reach out, because I don't like the idea of hanging on to a thing that might be dying. I am beginning to wonder how many people I lost beacause I let them go too soon by mistaking a change in the weather of circumstance for a change in seasons.

1 comment:

Bird said...

Just so you know we may not talk very often but I love just as much today as I did so many years ago in England and in Duluth...

Sorry i am so bad at staying in contact! You have left a mark in my life and its one that will never be filled by anyone else!

Miss you!