Archive for April, 2018

A common experience of social networks seems to be that you find people again whom you haven’t had contact with for, say, 30 years. At first there is joy – it’s amazing to be back in touch, there’s the excitement of catching up, exchanging potted histories of the intervening time and telling people how you’ve found this long-lost friend from your past. Then the flurry dies down, and the rekindled new friendship predictably fizzles out, leaving behind it a slight sense of loss, as you both go back to what you’ve been doing for 30 years, namely doing without contact with each other. Why is it so hard to accept that, with some very occasional exceptions, you usually lose touch with people for a reason: either you drift apart, or one of you makes the decision consciously or unconsciously to let go? In other words, one or both of you felt at the time that their energy and attention were better spent on other people. That is what makes so many reunions a masochistic soul-destroying exercise, which often ends in looking back on events and experiences that bring with them no real lasting pleasure but just a momentary reminder of the feelings they caused first time around, whether those were good or bad. For the most part, in life you tend to keep in touch with the people you want to keep in touch with and who want to keep in touch with you. Investing enormous amounts of resources into stoking up the fire of old friendships that have flickered out is a dubious pastime except for superficial entertainment. If you care, don’t do it because you are likely to be disappointed. Do you really want to hear anyone say to you that to them you will always be the person you were 30 years ago, as if what has happened and what you have done since didn’t make any difference? However, if you can treat it as purely tying up old loose threads, and then move on without emotional involvement, then fine. Resolution is good.

To use the hackneyed motoring analogy, you don’t get far on the road focusing more on what you see in the rear-view mirror than on what is going on around you and looking at what is in front of you. And what is more, even the rear-view mirror the analogy is based on tends to show what has gone immediately before, rather than the dim and distant past – the car you have just gone past, not the ones you were in the same traffic jam with 30 miles back.

Time to remember that living in the now is the best way to go. Time to stop wasting time and energy on people from the past that you have got on perfectly well without for 30 years, and focus on those around you now where there is evidence outside the realm of archaeology that you share mutual interests with today and that some energy is being mutually spent on enjoying the interaction between the people you are now. A shared history may help forge bonds in life, but it is not enough on its own to keep those bonds alive and supple enough to bear the weight and strain of the passage of time and metamorphosis in those involved. Part of the person you were 30 years ago still exists in the person you are now, but it is nonsense to deny that you have changed and grown in that time. Not all clothes fit for life, and nor do people. If they actually stopped fitting 30 years ago, leave them be – let them go.

Read Full Post »