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Category Archives: Friends

Thank you for sharing your fights with us. It’s made both of us feel so much better. It’s made us seem so much more normal. And we’re both happier to be more normal. We’re stronger for it.

It’s one of the particular foibles of being newly married that you go through the same fights as everyone else experiences. You’re adjusting to sharing your life with a new person.

These are fights about social lives, sleeping, waking, doing the work, allocating responsibilities. One side might be working whilst the other isn’t. One might be adapting to a new place and a new way of doing things. Neither, probably, really wants to change.

It is also a particular foible that you think your fights are unique and unprecedented.

You fear you’re the first couple ever to have that fight. And it’s such a fundamental fight that you fear that you’ve gotten it all wrong.

They seem earth shatteringly important. They could even be marriage ending.

The most important decision of your young adult life and you’ve managed to blow it by marrying this person with who you fight all the time.

So it is refreshing when your fiends share their fights with you. You feel so much better. Thank you for sharing.

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Comments are more fun than ‘likes’.

‘Likes’ fly by. Acknowledgment without interaction.  Perfunctory registration of interest, amusement or appreciation.  All our good thoughts blended into the mushiness of ‘like’.  All those infinitely individual positive reactions lost

Transmogrified into a fleeting flicker of interaction.

Little given, little gained.

Why not do a little bit more? Say a few words. Be yourself. Write what you think (even if what you think is "i like that").

Leave behind a comment.

A comment is – usually – substantive. It interacts with what has been said. It interacts with the people – yes people – who came before. It walks in their footsteps. It takes them in new directions.

A comment creates a platform for other comments. Threads grow from the first comment. Sometimes a spark yields a fire. Sometimes a joke is born with a life of its own. Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes, something special might happen.

Give a little more. Get back a little more.

No universe of ‘likes’ can match that.

Post something back.  Engage with the things other people want to share.  Be bold. Be daring. Be yourself. Say what you think.

Leave a comment.

Have you ever experienced that feeling of making a new friend too fast? That sensation that you ought to pull away from someone cause you?  That, maybe, even though things have gone smoothly so far, its still risky to be going out on a limb so fast for someone so new?

I’m not talking about an acquaintance here. Not that ‘oh this person was interesting I’d like to get to know them better’ feeling or the ‘we have a lot in common feeling’ but the actual transformation from being a name you’d vaguely heard of into a proper – trusted – friend within days.

I’ve had that sensation twice that has stuck in my recollection. Both times were such different experiences.

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This is a quiet prayer. A quiet prayer for all those who are (just) holding themselves together. Those who come across as calm, self-assured and confident. Those who laugh, smile and celebrate for others. Those who open their hearts to share the weight of someone else’s burden. Those who tread the world with a lightness of step. Those who bring joy into our lives.

Those who know that all of this is possible only because of a frayed thread that holds out a brave front to the world. Those who worry constantly about the fresh fraying that might break that brave front. Those who know all the heavy cares held back by a single stitched line of bravery.  Those who want to go back make impossible changes so they might not have to put on such a brave front.

I know that feeling. I know that fraying. For you, all of you, all of us, this is a quiet prayer.

I have spoken many thoughts, heard many words, and shared many perceptions in the last month. People talking about people. People talking about their colleagues, friends, lovers and spouses. People talking about the most important relationships of their lives, sometimes going through their most important moments.

Throughout these shared moments, one constant theme I keep finding is how important context tends to be. A person experiencing a rough moment at work, going through a stressed time at home, finds that their relationship with their significant other suddenly is broken. Not because the relationship is flawed but because the significant other has just been fired, has a difficult emotional challenge at home or  cannot cope with another challenge in their lives.

And yet it is the relationship that cracks. Lives radically changed – maybe for a time even shattered – by a perfect storm of circumstance.

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Over the last three years I’ve been pushing myself to be more sociable. Despite this I’m still clinging on to my self image as an introvert. There’s only so much socialising I could endure. So it had to be limited. Attend a few events and then off. Interactions restrained within comfortable limits.

I was satisfied with this balance. I’ve a few close work friends. I’ve some good people to chat with sociably. A few more with whom I enjoy spending time. Enough to keep a simple introvert happy.

You see, introverts idealise isolation. They see it as the ultimate Zen state where the draining power of social interaction can’t hurt them.  Where all those different, changing, complex people can’t grind them down any more.

Then last September I changed jobs.

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I used to find it perplexing that people become so agitated when other people behaved like human beings. Haven’t we learned that this is what people are like? If we all know that this is what people are like, why do we still react so strongly when people behave like people?

We all enjoy praise. Yet, living for praise leads to a life of striving to satisfy other people’s values. To focus on realising our own values we need to overcome our sensitivity to praise.

The desire for praise and the elation it evokes is often tied to our identity. How do we overcome this desire?

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My inner monologue finds this week delightful.  The intense sociability of the last few days and the accompanying rigid timetable, provoked the feeling of a rigid routine, and I have never favored living too rigidly. Yet this routine has been tremendously enjoyable, in no part due to the excellent company at every turn.

I remain skeptic of scheduled living for two important reasons. Firstly, free time has an openness that allows the mind to catch up on the backlog of things that have gone before.  All the experiences of a day, a week, or months are slowly synthesized by the mind and returned to the realm of consciousness only if the mind is given the time to learn its lessons.  Real insight only happens when the mind is not constantly buried under fresh information.

Secondly, a linear excursion through life, planned for contingencies and scheduled for efficiency (how businessmen live and no artist or author would), leaves no space for unexpected experience  When you’ve got time planned out to maximise every minute, there isn’t a moment to grab that cup of coffee, go for lunch with colleagues or wonder into that event you weren’t going to attend. Quality takes as long as it requires, and time limits, deadlines and arbitrary impositions don’t help.

At the same time, a steady stream of points, places and people to visit has been oddly liberating. The steady hum of a little small purpose alongside the grand themes of life, a little excitement and a lot of company have proved to be a compelling cocktail of activity. Even a little task such as a trip to the library to pick up more Rebus novels has proven to be satisfying, alongside the mammoth tasks of Jessup selections and Monday night squash.

I didn’t anticipate that it would be enjoyable: if anything I feared that I had bitten of a little too much and would regret my commitaholic approach.

I agree there is a balance; to both schedule the space for opportunities without pretending that every moment is an opportunity (i.e. "schedule nothing; do nothing") and you have to leave the space open for opportunities to present themselves without rejecting them regardless of their merit when the arise (i.e. "schedule everything; miss everything").

I can’t do both at the same time, but, luckily, there is a median way: I can leave the gaps that allow an opportunity to take root preventing the dominance of a rigid life whilst also allowing the bubble of timetables to grow.

BEAUTIFUL DAY Today has been a day of many contrasts: each thing in its own enjoyable and each compounding contrast adding its own particular brightness to the day.

Today was a good day.

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