Friends

It was my daughters 21st a couple of months back but she only had her party last weekend.  I have to admit to being a reluctant attendee.  I didn’t want to go into a situation where people who want nothing to do with me would be.  I have seen no one from my previous married life as some of you who have been following this blog for a long time would know.

So I was apprehensive, scared and had a hard time relaxing.  I gave a couple of good speeches at my two son’s 21sts a few years back (even if I do say so mself) but I went to this one totally unprepared and I was thinking the whole time about what I might say.  In the end it didn’t happen and I regret that, not that it was totally my fault.

I left the venue to go and guide my sister in because she had gotten lost and when I walked back in the speeches were already being made so I sort of hung around at the back in a cowardly way.

The party was held late for my daughter and early for a friend of hers.  These two have known each other all their lives and been great mates for a long time, so here’s what I would have said.

Young ladies, you move now from what was once considered childhood into formal adulthood.  It’s an artificial line in a lot of ways, you can already vote and drive a car and drink legally.  I remember when I turned 21 that I believed I was already pretty old and wise.   Foolishly really, because the years since have taught me many lessons and as all parents know it is not an easy thing to pass those lessons on to their children.   But I’m going to try and do that now.

You two have been great mates.  You’ve laughed and cried together, enjoyed ach others company and been sick of it at times, squabbled occasionally but been there for each other when you have needed to be.   Never, ever, forget that.

There will be times in the rest of your lives when you need friends, when you need to have someone to confide in, or just a mate to share a burden occasionally.    Give each other a shoulder to cry on when it’s needed, hold out a hand and support each other in the hard times, and delight in the joys that are yet to come, your marriages, your children, the many other occasions you will share throughout the rest of your lives.

But know also that you need to work at it.  It’s easy to lose friends.  It’s easy to forget and maybe not forgive alleged wrongs.  Promise me that if that distance starts to creep in that you’ll work at keeping it at bay.  That doesn’t mean you have to live in each others pockets, just remember to remember the other one.

Twenty one is called your majority but it’s only the first step of that adult roller coaster we all go through.   It’s always better to share the good times and bad with your friends.

Farther On

There are times when we must make choices in our lives that may seem strange or difficult to understand by outsiders looking in.   But the old adage “walk a mile in my shoes” is never more pertinent than in those cases, for unless we can state without fear of contradiction that we know absolutely every reason why another person has chosen a particular course of action, we cannot truly understand their motivation.
Any imposition of our own beliefs, or our own experience, will only match up with the true reasons for a particular course of action by the most flukey coincidence.  Should we then either believe we know the answer or take the word of someone else who says they do?   Or should we take the time to talk to the person about why they did the things they did and therefore educate ourselves with first hand knowledge of their point of view?
It is very easy to jump to conclusions.  It is perhaps even easier to accept carte blanche the word of someone we regard as a friend.  But in doing that do we actually sell the other person short?
I ask these as rhetorical questions.  Any of you who have gone through a marriage break up or who have watched a friend’s marriage disintegrate may well have found yourselves in a situation where you have had to choose one side or the other.  In some cases that choice may be an easy one.  Perhaps you were a friend of one of the couple before the other, maybe you were the shoulder to cry on for one and not the other, or perhaps one person’s behaviour was anathema to you and you couldn’t find the time to walk in their shoes or to even ask why they did what they did.   Maybe it is just easier to deal with things if you are able to place the blame squarely at the feet of one or the other.   For blame is itself an explanation and justification in not being able to forgive.
But before you wipe a person off can I suggest that there are always two sides to a story.  If your friendship had any value at all, if you cared for both people, do you owe both of them equal time?  Do you wipe one off simply because it is easier?    Is it done because it seems like less of a betrayal of the one you side with?
One thing I’ve learnt is that things do not stand still.  That life moves on and lives change, what seems broken and confusing one day may have a perfectly rational explanation the next.  And truth is something that changes when we change our viewpoint, in an ocean our knowledge of height is simply the distance from the peak of a wave to a trough, standing on top of Everest or at the rim of the Grand Canyon our perspective of height and distance is very different.  Imagine then how much more different it would seem from the moon.  Place yourself where your friend stands before you wipe him off, before you impose your reality of what height is on him.   You may then find it in your heart to forgive and maybe see a way forward where you do not have to choose one over the other.  Consider there may be room for both.

Farther On

There are times when we must make choices in our lives that may seem strange or difficult to understand by outsiders looking in.   But the old adage “walk a mile in my shoes” is never more pertinent than in those cases, for unless we can state without fear of contradiction that we know absolutely every reason why another person has chosen a particular course of action, we cannot truly understand their motivation.
Any imposition of our own beliefs, or our own experience, will only match up with the true reasons for a particular course of action by the most flukey coincidence.  Should we then either believe we know the answer or take the word of someone else who says they do?   Or should we take the time to talk to the person about why they did the things they did and therefore educate ourselves with first hand knowledge of their point of view?
It is very easy to jump to conclusions.  It is perhaps even easier to accept carte blanche the word of someone we regard as a friend.  But in doing that do we actually sell the other person short?
I ask these as rhetorical questions.  Any of you who have gone through a marriage break up or who have watched a friend’s marriage disintegrate may well have found yourselves in a situation where you have had to choose one side or the other.  In some cases that choice may be an easy one.  Perhaps you were a friend of one of the couple before the other, maybe you were the shoulder to cry on for one and not the other, or perhaps one person’s behaviour was anathema to you and you couldn’t find the time to walk in their shoes or to even ask why they did what they did.   Maybe it is just easier to deal with things if you are able to place the blame squarely at the feet of one or the other.   For blame is itself an explanation and justification in not being able to forgive.
But before you wipe a person off can I suggest that there are always two sides to a story.  If your friendship had any value at all, if you cared for both people, do you owe both of them equal time?  Do you wipe one off simply because it is easier?    Is it done because it seems like less of a betrayal of the one you side with?
One thing I’ve learnt is that things do not stand still.  That life moves on and lives change, what seems broken and confusing one day may have a perfectly rational explanation the next.  And truth is something that changes when we change our viewpoint, in an ocean our knowledge of height is simply the distance from the peak of a wave to a trough, standing on top of Everest or at the rim of the Grand Canyon our perspective of height and distance is very different.  Imagine then how much more different it would seem from the moon.  Place yourself where your friend stands before you wipe him off, before you impose your reality of what height is on him.   You may then find it in your heart to forgive and maybe see a way forward where you do not have to choose one over the other.  Consider there may be room for both.

Another Bewildered Father

I was down at the local shopping centre last night where I meet my daughters most Thursday nights for a meal of KFC.  Yeah I know, I’m over 50 with a slight paunch and shouldn’t be eating that stuff, but I’ve liked it ever since Dad brought it home one night way back in the late 60’s when the first store opened in Box Hill.  But I digress.

As I was walking towards the food court I ran into a bloke I’ve known for a lot of years, in fact we used to be members of the same organisation.  I see him occasionally and we always stop for a chat.  He’s lost a lot of weight recently and when I commented he told me that he’d separated from his wife of 30 odd years in the past two months.

It is a story that repeats itself every day somewhere on Earth.  He had had enough and left.   I didn’t ask what the marriage was like but I did say that I knew how he felt.   He had been doing his own thing for a few years, pursuing other interests his wife had no time for, he explained how that lack of communication and enjoyment of each others company began to build barriers, and how the molehills became mountains that he couldn’t see a way over.

His children refuse to talk to him at the moment and he asked me what to do.  Given I’ve often felt like a failure in that area myself I could only tell him to hang in there, that he needed to keep calling and showing interest in their lives and that if he did that then they would come around.  He was their father after all.

We exchanged cards and left with a promise to catch up.  But like most blokes, he will probably also suffer in silence, accept the entire burden for the break up himself and not reach out for help when he most needs it.    I know how he feels.  This is not necessarily an episode of depression, it may be, but it is more likely to be a grieving process.  An examination of what went wrong and how things may have been different.  At the end of the day we all find our own answers to those questions and when we do, it is possible to move on.  

It is a sad fact of gender that men do not have the support networks that women do, that we almost always put on the brave face, and that any crying we do is in private and when we are alone.  When all of the blame seems to lie on the one set of shoulders that self imposed isolation becomes even more of a burden as friends take sides, so that the people we may have felt we could talk to are no longer there.  So we withdraw into self imposed isolation for a period of time.   Self esteem can suffer, judgement can become clouded, we can throw ourselves into work to the detriment of everything else.  I have come to believe that the only way out of that miasma is to find an interest, be obsessed for a while if you need to be, but allow passion for a part of your life to creep back in, until the grief receeds, and you are ready to live again.

I will call him in the next week or so to see how he is getting on and to offer a little support if that is what he wants.

Another Bewildered Father

I was down at the local shopping centre last night where I meet my daughters most Thursday nights for a meal of KFC.  Yeah I know, I’m over 50 with a slight paunch and shouldn’t be eating that stuff, but I’ve liked it ever since Dad brought it home one night way back in the late 60’s when the first store opened in Box Hill.  But I digress.

As I was walking towards the food court I ran into a bloke I’ve known for a lot of years, in fact we used to be members of the same organisation.  I see him occasionally and we always stop for a chat.  He’s lost a lot of weight recently and when I commented he told me that he’d separated from his wife of 30 odd years in the past two months.

It is a story that repeats itself every day somewhere on Earth.  He had had enough and left.   I didn’t ask what the marriage was like but I did say that I knew how he felt.   He had been doing his own thing for a few years, pursuing other interests his wife had no time for, he explained how that lack of communication and enjoyment of each others company began to build barriers, and how the molehills became mountains that he couldn’t see a way over.

His children refuse to talk to him at the moment and he asked me what to do.  Given I’ve often felt like a failure in that area myself I could only tell him to hang in there, that he needed to keep calling and showing interest in their lives and that if he did that then they would come around.  He was their father after all.

We exchanged cards and left with a promise to catch up.  But like most blokes, he will probably also suffer in silence, accept the entire burden for the break up himself and not reach out for help when he most needs it.    I know how he feels.  This is not necessarily an episode of depression, it may be, but it is more likely to be a grieving process.  An examination of what went wrong and how things may have been different.  At the end of the day we all find our own answers to those questions and when we do, it is possible to move on.  

It is a sad fact of gender that men do not have the support networks that women do, that we almost always put on the brave face, and that any crying we do is in private and when we are alone.  When all of the blame seems to lie on the one set of shoulders that self imposed isolation becomes even more of a burden as friends take sides, so that the people we may have felt we could talk to are no longer there.  So we withdraw into self imposed isolation for a period of time.   Self esteem can suffer, judgement can become clouded, we can throw ourselves into work to the detriment of everything else.  I have come to believe that the only way out of that miasma is to find an interest, be obsessed for a while if you need to be, but allow passion for a part of your life to creep back in, until the grief receeds, and you are ready to live again.

I will call him in the next week or so to see how he is getting on and to offer a little support if that is what he wants.

It’s about time

I won’t be sorry to see the back of 2008.  It was the best of times it was the worst of times.   And I have actually tried writing this post twice and been thrown out and lost it twice.  Maybe someones trying to tell me something.   I was pretty ungracious to people in the earlier versions.  So I figure I’ll tone it down a bit.

What did I learn?

Firstly that putting things in writing is not necessarily a good thing with personal stuff because it can be passed onto people who have no right to see it.  That people will also talk out of school – two job interviews in a the same industry this year spent a lot of time concentrating on my personal life rather than my ability to do the job.   Made me realise that maybe I won’t work in that industry again.   People gossip way too much.

Secondly with work stuff I’ve learnt that I need to insist on having things in writing.  Despite people claiming friendship and giving personal undertakings to behave in a certain way, they will do what is best for them not for you.

And from that lesson and others I’ve learnt that friendship is a fickle thing.  That some people sometimes will judge and not be able to shift from that judgement.    That forgiveness is not easily come by.

I’ve also learnt that people need to be held accountable in the roles they are in.    It is not right that they ignore what their governance documents tell them they should do.   If you accept that the personal qualities required for a position include honesty, respect and professionalism, then make sure you abide by them rather than ignore them.

And despite that, I have learnt that help comes from unexpected places and that there are people who are prepared to assist where they can.

That if the universe has a purpose it is sometimes cloaked in darkness.  That things unfold as they will and that the unexpected is the norm.

And there were also plenty of good things – a trip to Thailand with my lady, a recommitment and rebirth of my relationship with my daughters, my heart to hearts with my sisters, my Mum’s finally agreeing to meet my new lady and her efforts to come to know her, my new dog Ramsey, our new home, the new work direction and meeting new people.

So the worst of times but way more importantly the best of times.

And if the universe has a purpose I have learnt that it is better not to know what it is.  That there will always be unexpected turns, for better and worse, but that ultimately in all things, good and bad, we can learn lessons to make us better people.

It’s about time

I won’t be sorry to see the back of 2008.  It was the best of times it was the worst of times.   And I have actually tried writing this post twice and been thrown out and lost it twice.  Maybe someones trying to tell me something.   I was pretty ungracious to people in the earlier versions.  So I figure I’ll tone it down a bit.

What did I learn?

Firstly that putting things in writing is not necessarily a good thing with personal stuff because it can be passed onto people who have no right to see it.  That people will also talk out of school – two job interviews in a the same industry this year spent a lot of time concentrating on my personal life rather than my ability to do the job.   Made me realise that maybe I won’t work in that industry again.   People gossip way too much.

Secondly with work stuff I’ve learnt that I need to insist on having things in writing.  Despite people claiming friendship and giving personal undertakings to behave in a certain way, they will do what is best for them not for you.

And from that lesson and others I’ve learnt that friendship is a fickle thing.  That some people sometimes will judge and not be able to shift from that judgement.    That forgiveness is not easily come by.

I’ve also learnt that people need to be held accountable in the roles they are in.    It is not right that they ignore what their governance documents tell them they should do.   If you accept that the personal qualities required for a position include honesty, respect and professionalism, then make sure you abide by them rather than ignore them.

And despite that, I have learnt that help comes from unexpected places and that there are people who are prepared to assist where they can.

That if the universe has a purpose it is sometimes cloaked in darkness.  That things unfold as they will and that the unexpected is the norm.

And there were also plenty of good things – a trip to Thailand with my lady, a recommitment and rebirth of my relationship with my daughters, my heart to hearts with my sisters, my Mum’s finally agreeing to meet my new lady and her efforts to come to know her, my new dog Ramsey, our new home, the new work direction and meeting new people.

So the worst of times but way more importantly the best of times.

And if the universe has a purpose I have learnt that it is better not to know what it is.  That there will always be unexpected turns, for better and worse, but that ultimately in all things, good and bad, we can learn lessons to make us better people.

The Diggers


From an old journal – Friday 13th April 1990

I’m writing tonight with Neil Young’s “Harvest” and “After the Gold Rush” albums playing in the background. I’d not played them for a long time and even after nearly twenty years they still stand up well and they bring back a lot of good memories.

In the mid 1970’s as a poor student neither I nor the group of mates I had which were collectively called “The Diggers could afford to go out very often. So we spent a lot of long nights at various peoples places gathered in the lounge room singing Neil Youn and James Taylor ballads, and Ausiie bush music to the accompaniment of a couple of guitars and occasionally a piano or a recorder. None of us were great singers but we had fun and it didn’t cost much. I forgot to say that Bob Dylan’s music also featured heavily.

Those memories are precious to me. The group of mates that were at school together for twelve years had yet to break up and although I still see some of them, the varied experiences of the ensuing years has in some ways put a barrier between us that even those memories can’t fully break down. I suppose that’s why I value Ian’s friendship so much although we don’t see a lot of each other now, our families are growing up together and even if links between them aren’t strong they’re still there. Our holidays together once a year is what keeps them going.

***************************************************
Postscript
We spent a number of Easters on holiday together and several Christmas holidays at Narooma but those days, like the loungeroom singalongs have passed.

I see very little of anyone from those days at all now. Ian and I speak occasionally but it would seem that Lyn is who they are maintaining the friendship with. I wonder whether it is possible to do both. Certainly it must be uncomfortable for them and it shouldn’t be a matter of choosing between us. I guess things will work themselves out over time.

Where do the years go?

The Diggers


From an old journal – Friday 13th April 1990

I’m writing tonight with Neil Young’s “Harvest” and “After the Gold Rush” albums playing in the background. I’d not played them for a long time and even after nearly twenty years they still stand up well and they bring back a lot of good memories.

In the mid 1970’s as a poor student neither I nor the group of mates I had which were collectively called “The Diggers could afford to go out very often. So we spent a lot of long nights at various peoples places gathered in the lounge room singing Neil Youn and James Taylor ballads, and Ausiie bush music to the accompaniment of a couple of guitars and occasionally a piano or a recorder. None of us were great singers but we had fun and it didn’t cost much. I forgot to say that Bob Dylan’s music also featured heavily.

Those memories are precious to me. The group of mates that were at school together for twelve years had yet to break up and although I still see some of them, the varied experiences of the ensuing years has in some ways put a barrier between us that even those memories can’t fully break down. I suppose that’s why I value Ian’s friendship so much although we don’t see a lot of each other now, our families are growing up together and even if links between them aren’t strong they’re still there. Our holidays together once a year is what keeps them going.

***************************************************
Postscript
We spent a number of Easters on holiday together and several Christmas holidays at Narooma but those days, like the loungeroom singalongs have passed.

I see very little of anyone from those days at all now. Ian and I speak occasionally but it would seem that Lyn is who they are maintaining the friendship with. I wonder whether it is possible to do both. Certainly it must be uncomfortable for them and it shouldn’t be a matter of choosing between us. I guess things will work themselves out over time.

Where do the years go?

The Diggers


From an old journal – Friday 13th April 1990

I’m writing tonight with Neil Young’s “Harvest” and “After the Gold Rush” albums playing in the background. I’d not played them for a long time and even after nearly twenty years they still stand up well and they bring back a lot of good memories.

In the mid 1970’s as a poor student neither I nor the group of mates I had which were collectively called “The Diggers could afford to go out very often. So we spent a lot of long nights at various peoples places gathered in the lounge room singing Neil Youn and James Taylor ballads, and Ausiie bush music to the accompaniment of a couple of guitars and occasionally a piano or a recorder. None of us were great singers but we had fun and it didn’t cost much. I forgot to say that Bob Dylan’s music also featured heavily.

Those memories are precious to me. The group of mates that were at school together for twelve years had yet to break up and although I still see some of them, the varied experiences of the ensuing years has in some ways put a barrier between us that even those memories can’t fully break down. I suppose that’s why I value Ian’s friendship so much although we don’t see a lot of each other now, our families are growing up together and even if links between them aren’t strong they’re still there. Our holidays together once a year is what keeps them going.

***************************************************
Postscript
We spent a number of Easters on holiday together and several Christmas holidays at Narooma but those days, like the loungeroom singalongs have passed.

I see very little of anyone from those days at all now. Ian and I speak occasionally but it would seem that Lyn is who they are maintaining the friendship with. I wonder whether it is possible to do both. Certainly it must be uncomfortable for them and it shouldn’t be a matter of choosing between us. I guess things will work themselves out over time.

Where do the years go?

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