There are a few things in my life that I cannot live without. The first one is chocolate. I inherited that from my father, who changed the “apple a day” saying and never went back. The second one is people. The second one has a caveat that the first one does not have. The caveat is that a lot of times I deny that the second one exists at all.
Case in point: When I moved to California I actually told the person I now call one of my best friends that I wasn’t looking for any friends. I had enough and didn’t need any more. Word for word. I told her that to her face. Those are the moments you look back on and shake your head.
As I reflect on the necessity of number 2 (and my frequent denial of it), I realize how detrimental the word “busy” has become. Busy has become an excuse in my life to push the all-important relationships out of my oh-so-precious time schedule. “Busy” means I never check my voicemail (turns out four precious friends from the East Coast had called to catch up with me in the past two months and I hadn’t even known it.). “Busy” means I forget about a meeting with my pastor and thereby forego a great opportunity to discuss my own spirituality with somebody who can help push me forward. “Busy” means that I’ve been running this race, never stopping to see who is trying to run with me as I blow past them with another excuse.
Generally I think this happens because of two things: Either life gets hard or life gets harder. And all of a sudden I shut down. I shut down from relationships and friends and decide that I can do it all by myself. Why? I don’t know. But in the times when I most need to share the responsibility I shut the door and build a castle of preoccupations.
Its a sense of desperate independence that has no purpose.
Case in point: My pastor pulled me aside a few Sundays back. He told me that if I ever needed anything to let him know. But he didn’t just say it. He said it so intentionally, forcing me to look him in the eye and not just hear what he was saying but take the words truly seriously. “I know,” I replied, “I tend to think I can just do things on my own. Its a weird independence thing.” “Yea I know.” He replied.
When your pastor speaks you gotta listen.
So I fly through life with my bar of chocolate by my side (always half-eaten and smudged on my fingers) and I forget how important it is to have people by your side too, even when you live far away on a mountain. (The mountain became part of the excuse and the job the rationale.) But the fact is, we need people. Its always worth it to set aside everything else for a precious Skype or phone call. There is something about friends, near or far, that keep you grounded, that reminds you where you came from and what is important.
So in light of all this reflection I have made a commitment for the new school year- That I will deny my friends less and chocolate more.
…Or maybe I will just make them even…