One of the things we strive for in our lives is meaningful connections with other people or, to use the more common phrase, meaningful relationships. ‘No man is an island’, as the saying goes, which means that only when human beings are connected with others do they find meaning and joy in their lives, allowing them to grow and thrive.
Connections that we have with other people can take many forms; some of them are workmates or acquaintances, while some are friendships. Other connections can end up being more meaningful than others, and partnerships are formed, with many of these involving marriage and then family, which creates even more connections with children growing up into adults, and so on. The ongoing cycles of life.
We can often find inspiration and motivation to achieve goals simply because of a connection we have with someone, or with a number of people. We strive to make our lives better because doing so will make life better for those people we’re connected to, that we have a great deal of care for.
We can also find ourselves without motivation or inspiration, ‘down in the dumps’, depressed and miserable – and alone.
If you have a look at those who are depressed, I feel confident it’s because they’re lacking meaningful connections in their lives, or theythink they’re lacking meaningful connections. For whatever reason, they may have withdrawn from those who are meaningful to them, lost in their own mind dramas, creating realities that don’t need to be created. When we’re connected with others we find a reason to keep living, and when we’re disconnected, we can lose our reasons for living. (I’ll probably write another blog post about this in the near future. An idea to explore.)
I’ve been privileged in my life to have meaningful connections along the way. Many of them come and many of them go, but they’ve always been around, and for that I’ve been grateful. Some of them have lasted only short times but left their mark on my life, while others have lasted many years.
About 99% of my childhood friends disappeared after I left school and moved on from the town I grew up in. Well, truthfully speaking, it was probably me that disappeared from their lives. They stayed in the same town, remaining connected with each other. I did my best to maintain those connections, but long distance friendships – without physical meetings to refresh the connection – will mostly fade away in time.
The 1% of my childhood friends remained connected to me until just a month ago. (Well, he was one of about 5 childhood friends, so maybe he was 20% of my childhood friends…) We were ‘best friends forever’ for about 35 years. And then it was over. I found that disappointing, but I understand that not all connections are meant to last forever.
I remember a very good friend from many years ago. We came together as friends, had an awesome time together, and then she moved on. I was her friend during a time that was painful to her, when she was in the process of separating from her husband, but she found it painful to maintain our friendship because it reminded her of a time that was painful to her. She ended that connection because of her negative associations with it.
I had another very good friend who was the only one of my very good friends to visit me from Australia when I was living in New Zealand. Twice. We got along famously and had many wonderful years of friendship. And then she got married and doesn’t talk to me any more.
People come into our lives for reasons, seasons or lifetimes. For a short time or a long time, they play a part in our lives that provide some kind of meaning. I’m always going to appreciate those connections I develop, and appreciate what they bring to me, how they enrich my life, and what I learn from them.
When I was living and working in Sydney just a few months ago, I met someone at a restaurant I frequented each night. Extroverts are very good at talking to strangers, something I’m not very good at. But he talked to me and we very quickly developed a rapport, which blossomed into a wonderful friendship over just a few weeks, to the point that he was someone who I strongly valued in my life. I invited him to my wedding, and it was an honor for both of us for him to attend. (It’s also an honor for both of us that he’s coming to my birthday party tonight.)
Another very good friend was someone I met in New Zealand, a decade ago. He and I also developed a very strong connection and spent many years inseparable. We’re still inseparable. When I moved back to Australia in 2007, he followed in 2008 and lived with me and he’s still with me today. He’s my flatmate, sharing with my wife and me. He’s going to be uncle and babysitter to our kids. He’ll probably disagree with this, but I’m sure he’ll settle into it when it happens. grin
My wife is my most meaningful connection right now. I’ve never had a wife before, so it’s quite a new experience! People have asked me, “So how’s married life?” I’ve always responded with, “No different to how life was before I was married.” But it’s different.
Before I was married there was an uncertainty in the back of my mind, which is an uncertainty in the mind of everyone who’s in a non-married relationship. It’s that uncertainty about the longevity of the relationship. It’s always much easier to leave a girlfriend or boyfriend than it is to leave a husband or wife, and with a long history of failed relationships behind me, that was always there. Now that I’m married, it’s no longer there.
I’m finally with someone that I’ve committed to, who has also committed to me, and there’s a certainty in it that’s become apparent – the certainty that no matter what, we’ll work through whatever issues that arise so that we can continue being happy together, for the rest of our lives. That certainty was never there before.
Yes, I know – shit can happen and divorce can result. But I believe I’ve chosen to be with someone that will struggle as much as I will, to make sure that our connection remains happy, rewarding and fulfilling, as best we can.
And apparently, that’s what being married is all about, and that change in attitude and belief is what I’ve noticed as a change in me. It’s quite refreshing.
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