“Thank You for Being a Friend”
By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer
“…Our friends are the continuous threads that help hold our lives together.” Sarah Ban Breathnach
Many of you no doubt shudder at memories of life as a junior high or middle school student. Puberty flaring up at unexpected moments… indecipherable cafeteria seating rules…cliques and bullies and questionable fashion choices.
It truly is a jungle.
What I also remember, quite clearly, is the ongoing friendship wars that took place amongst the girls in my 7th and 8th grade classes. There were constant changes of allegiance and loyalties were regularly questioned. The wrong hairstyle or parents or house could sentence you to a lifetime (because even a day feels like an eon to a “tween”) of solitude and ritualistic shunning. Missing even one day of school could upset the delicate social balance you had created, and no bonds were sacred.
For many a junior high girl, commencement day arrived with a blanket of relief and a feeling of accomplishment – “If I can survive that…I can survive anything.”
(Of course, no one ever has the heart to tell 13-year-olds that High School is yet another battleground to navigate on the way to adulthood.)
For some people, the politics of the junior high friendship never change – only the actors are swapped and the backdrops shuffled. Just watch one episode of the “Real Housewives of Wherever” (go on…I dare ya!), and you’ll see all that childhood chaos in full effect: the pouting and the name-calling and the gossiping…oh the gossiping!
I am blessed – and have been for almost 30 years – to have a core group of confidants who’ve traveled by my side through puberty, college and into adult. Our friendships are not perfect, but the tatters and tears only make them more special, more valuable. And one of the benefits of being secure in your comrades is that it allows you to be open to even more connections – I’ve been dazzled over the years by the cool and amazing people I’ve been privileged to call “friend.”
“Our friends are the jewels in the crown of our contentment,” writes Sarah Ban Breathnach. She advises cherishing your friends like the valuable commodities that they are – and to let them know that you value and love them in ways large and small.
“Above all, let your friends know how much you love them,” Ban Breathnach advises. “Tell them frequently how much you treasure the gift of their friendship.”
When we’re caught up in the whirlwind of life and have already added to our responsibilities by trying to cultivate our creativity and carve out time for artistic endeavors, it can be hard to keep up with your friends. Finding time for a glass of wine or a weekday lunch can be difficult, and sometimes feel like a burden.
Shouldn’t we be writing instead?
I’ve heard many times the importance of finding time to write without interruption. But sometimes it does us good to challenge assumptions – even habits that are good for us can cause us to stall and our endeavors to stagnate. Sometimes, the thing you need is an interruption – after all, life is not going to bend to your needs and it’s good practice to find a way to sustain momentum even when your daily schedule is upended.
In fact, when it comes to fostering good habits and healthy customs, flexibility is key. I learned that years ago in terms of exercise – while it’s fantastic if you can arrange a run every morning before work, or a lunchtime weights or sunset yoga session, the truth is that you have to also plan for the unexpected and make sure you can adjust accordingly. A doctor’s appointment or work emergency or unexpected visitor (or that demon of upended schedules known as “The Holidays) can destabilize your day and even make your workout appointment impossible to attend.
But if you don’t adjust – say by taking a 30 minute walk at lunch to compensate for a missed workout – you may end up doing more damage, in part because you open the door to skipping your daily duty whenever complications arise. The challenge is to find a way to meet those duties even during upheaval.
And that applies to writing. You’ve committed to writing every day, and though the morning may work best for you (or lunchtime, or after work), if you can’t make it your page at the appointed time, don’t treat it like a tragedy. Instead work around it. Find a way to jot a paragraph down during a pause (perhaps while you’re in line at the DMV or waiting in a dentist’s lobby) or restructure where you can so that you can find a few minutes of writing time during another part of your day. If you find you can roll with the punches when difficulties arise, then you’ll feel more relaxed and able to make time for the distractions and impromptu events that seem “negotiable” but are in fact spiritually (and creatively) indispensible to a balanced life.
So cherish your friends and make time for them. Put your writing aside for an hour (I know…I know, that seems like a shocking suggestion coming from someone who’s always haranguing you to “make it to the page”), and meet a friend for lunch. Your spirit will thank you for the respite and I bet you’ll find that when you do get back to the business of writing you’ll feel energized and invigorated.
And who knows, maybe you’ll unearth a new character – an innkeeper with a limp or a mysterious stranger – that just happens to be called Buffy just like your BFF. What better way to say “I love you,” than naming your main character’s arch nemesis after your best friend? They may be puzzled initially, but they’ll thank you once you win the Pulitzer, Oscar and Nobel Prize and made their moniker a household name.
Or not. But it’s the thought that counts.
(And for of the Daily Creative Writer’s friends who are still waiting for that wine-and-cheese-and-catch-up-hour, the invite will be delivered shortly…or sooner rather than later…right after I finish up that last round of NaNoWriMo…I promise!)
All original content is the sole property of Elizabeth Cutright and The Daily Creative Writer. If you are reading this blog on another website, it has been reposted without the author’s permission in violation of the DMCA. © 2012 The Daily Creative Writer
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