Lessons I’m learning from my 10 year old neighbors
There are a couple of girls in our neighborhood who come by our house every few days asking if they can walk Sierra (our dog).
Today I ran into them while I was walking Sierra. They were visiting another dog, Dino, down the street. They stopped to chat and pet Sierra. They were thrilled to discover Sierra and Dino knew each other and were friends, too.
As I turned toward home, they started to follow, then Logan said, “Wait, we were planning to go that way for a bit yet,” pointing in the opposite direction. They looked slightly apologetically at me and I assured them it was fine, waved goodbye, and smiled as I walked down the sidewalk and they bounced off the other way.
Remember when life was simple like that?
Remember being young and hanging out with your best friend? Every afternoon spent running, playing, biking, sharing secrets, never really getting tired of being around one another, because you always had to go home too soon.
A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend about friendships and how they change over time. We didn’t come to any major conclusions, but as expats, we’ve both experienced the challenge of moving many times as adults. Leaving old friends, making new ones. All too soon, leaving those new (or are they old now?) friends, starting over with new ones. Some of you experienced this as kids. For me, moving so much started in my late 20’s.
It’s not easy and it often leaves me feeling disconnected.
I miss my friends from all the places I’ve lived. I miss my family. Despite the options of FaceBook/What’s App/Messenger/Instagram/Hangouts/Viber/Twitter/Google/ etc etc etc, for connecting, I’ll sit alone feeling like there’s no one to talk to.
What’s that all about, I ask myself? What keeps me from picking up the phone and calling someone? What holds me back from sending a message? Writing an email?
Honestly, I worry about the response. Or lack of response, rather.
What if they don’t respond back? What if they are busy? What if they don’t answer?
But, when did all these concerns pop up?
When did reaching out become about the response I got and not the response I could give?
Somewhere along the way it shifted and now I’m working on re-shifting it back the other way.
Last month, I listened to an interview with Sheryl Sandberg, talking about her new book, Option B. I resonated with a lot of what she shared.
Similar to Sheryl, loosing a spouse increased my sense of how fragile and temporary life is. It increased my urgency to connect with loved ones and tell people how much they meant to me.
Life slowed down and my connections with family and friends were top priority.
But then life sped up, got hectic, and I moved away. Again. And again. And again. And staying connected became more difficult.
Life sped up, but I have the option to slow down. To pause. To connect.
I don’t want it to take another traumatic loss to slow me down and connect with those I love.
I want to be active now, connecting with loved ones, writing letters/emails/notes, telling my friends and family how much they mean to me.
So, I’m thinking about the carefree energy of my neighbor girls. Letting go of the worry of responses or no responses. I’m thinking of friends and family. I’m thinking about picking up the phone, sending a message. Connecting. Because I can.
And I’m so grateful you’ve slowed down to read this. I know it’s not easy and your time is precious and limited.
Now that you’ve slowed down, though, why not take a moment and connect with someone you love?
Because you can.