My sleep Saturday night was filled with dreams. Crazy dreams of conspiracies and angry people and medical conditions. They were populated by a cast of characters culled from my real life, but thrown together in incongruous ways as dreams are apt to do. I dreamed of people I see every day and of those I haven’t seen in ages. In many ways, it was nice. Some of those people have dropped out of my life for good – some of that for the better, others not – but oddly, even the people I didn’t want to see were greeted with eager anticipation rather than dread.
I’m sure we all have plenty of people that were once in our lives that are no longer. It’s so easy and very tempting to think that the people that are in your life at any one particular moment will be there forever. The sad truth is that most relationships are very transient and meet needs of the moment vs. being the type of enduring relationships that many of us seek. Perhaps it just happens to me more than others, but I feel like the universe keeps trying to teach me that lesson and I keep stubbornly refusing to listen. That’s the story I told myself when the person who I would have considered my “best friend” in high school unfriended me on Facebook without so much as an explanation. Truthfully, it didn’t bother me that much because I hadn’t really been in contact with him for nearly a decade. Perhaps he didn’t like my politics? Perhaps he didn’t like me blathering on and on about Madonna? I don’t know. I’ll never know. But if listening to me go on and on about Madonna bothered him that much, he probably wasn’t that interested in knowing me in a very authentic manner anyway. His loss.
I remember thinking that the people I knew in college would be the type that endured. Here are the people that I will look back on and stay in touch with and get together with after we’ve all graduated and started real life. The truth there is that until the advent of Facebook and social media, I’d lost contact with most all of them, even those that I counted among the closest of friends. Even most of my roommates during that time – those who arguably knew me the best then – have more or less fallen off my radar. I guess it’s just how life goes.
There are a handful of people – not many, but some – that are no longer in my life because of a grave misunderstanding or hurt feelings. As I ponder it now, I see that most of the time, it was actually the result of profound douchebaggery, either on their part or my part. Usually, it’s both. When I think about the relationships in my life that exploded into pieces vs. just kind of fading away, there’s always plenty of blame to go around. Even though at the time I was completely convinced of my absolute infallibility and them being a complete asshat, hindsight almost invariably proves me wrong. Yesterday I was thinking about one of those relationships that exploded rather unceremoniously. It was a long time ago and even though it ended badly, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I have to admit that I still kind of miss them. Even though the emotional douchebaggery knew no bounds in that friendship, there are things that I miss. I’m sure it was because they showed up in my dream and bygones were bygones and there were no hard feelings. I miss the conversation most of all, even though by the time it was over, even that was nothing but an illusion.
I know that you can’t go back and that you can’t hold on to people if they don’t want to be held on to. I sometimes think that the things I truly long for are not attainable as part of the human existence. As the Buddha would say, life is unsatisfactory and there is no lasting happiness to be found in it. Much like that PostSecret postcard from a couple weekends ago, I just take comfort in knowing that we are all alone together. And it is for that reason that I will just be happy in the now and with the people I have. I will continue to work hard to make relationships work, even though there are a million tiny ways they can go awry. And even if ultimately there are people in my life now that may not be in 10 years, they might still show up in a dream someday.