I’ve been thinking about the American Declaration of Independence. Not as it pertains to the United States, but as it pertains to friendship. In the book ‘Ben and Me’, this is the entire reason the thing is written. It was not a declaration of freedom and war, but a treatise from a mouse to a man. Written by Robert Lawson (Disney made a short movie based on this book, but left out where Ben and Amos travel to France), this is a favorite book about the inventions and experiences by Ben Franklin and his mouse friend, Amos. (NOTE: I love this author!!!!!) Anyway, in the book, Amos gets very put out with Ben and writes up an extensive step by step explanation of why. Amos being the injured party and Ben being the Powers that Be. One of the other big names from the early days of the Revolution stops by (I think he was whining) and asks if Ben has any idea on how they could state their desires to England. Ben is flustered by the trouble he’s having with his mouse friend and starts to read the document. It is hailed with cries of delight and, eventually, Ben apologises magnanimously, then asks Amos if he might copy it out and change a few things. Amos accepts the apology, agrees, and their friendship was put back on track.
In a relationship, people ebb and flow. They might spend years being bosom buddies as youth and when they become adults, they drift apart. This is life. Hurtful, at times, and it can be incredibly sad. Yet, change is necessary and important in order to thrive. I’ve been thinking of many of my friendships over the last few years. I’ve had strong friends who are now good friends, I’ve made excellent friends who have become friends, and I’ve rekindled friendships and created new ones. It is a beautiful part of growing up. Something we should never stop doing.
It’s not a good idea to hoard those relationships. That isn’t fair. Friends should be allowed to live on their own. For me, they are not my own personal toys to make me feel good when I want them. There is an aged cliché about if you love something set it free, if it comes back it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was. Well, my friends are not ‘mine’, they are themselves. I don’t want to pass them to a thrift store, but when they start to fray, it is better to put friendships aside gently instead of keeping it around til it is a shadow of what it once was. It is even better to see if the problems can be ironed out, as Ben and Amos did, but life isn’t a storybook. I have one friendship that was broken for 23 years. I will never do that again. It hurt too much to carry anger around that long. Some friendships cannot be repaired once torn asunder, those hurt a great deal and I wonder where and how those people are.
Yet, we shouldn’t linger in the memories of past friendships, we need to appreciate them, and move on. (only to haul them out again at reunions, where everything is once again fair game!) This is the hardest thing for me to do. I want to keep people close. I don’t have a lot of solid friends and when I do find one, I tend to cling. I often cling to the point of gouging out steps and ruining it, someday I hope to learn better! (I hope I am not a parasite like an ivy, enhancing til death do us part—Ivy is soo pretty and absolutely invasive and horrible!) Because of this, many of the people in my compass, I hold loosely. I know they’ll move on and I don’t want to get too tangled in their worlds. Yup, I am a difficult friend. Sort of like the Push Me-Pull You from Dr. Doolittle’s adventures (another super fun series to read!).
I was looking at the declaration as pertaining to my marriage. A friendship on a larger scale. It is a bit absolute, but it helps me put things into a sort of perspective. However, I’m not as brave as Amos. If I write it out, I won’t share it! (yikes!) Thankfully, I’m not an injured party (or maltreated mouse). Yet, I admit, the words are interesting to play with. What do you think? (You would definitely have to word your own ‘Facts’ to fit your own life!!! Sometimes, I read over some the colonists wrote and get annoyed. I’m sure my own would be just as nose crinkling to others.) It is definitely an unusual step to take. Or not.