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.

The Nature of Friendship

There’s something happening that has made me examine the meaning of friendship again and I’ll write about it elsewhere but I thought I’d examine what it means to be a friend here.

One of the earliest mentions of friendship comes from Aristotle who distinguishes three different kinds of friendship. One he calls genuine friendship and the other two based on mutual usefulness and pleasure. It is the first which he says doesn’t dissolve whilst the other two are ephemeral and come and go according to need.

The first he says takes place between two good men –
‘each alike wish good for the other good, and they are good in themselves’. Aristotle continues, ‘And it is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality’ (Aristotle 1976: 263).

So what is the nature of the other two? Well Aristotle and others claim that they are based on utility which last only as long as the need for the friendship lasts. Once that is gone the frienship goes with it.

An article on Public Book Shelf states –

Friendships of this kind seem to occur most frequently between the elderly (because at their age what they want is not pleasure but utility) and those in middle or early life who are pursuing their own advantage. Such persons do not spend much time together, because sometimes they do not even like one another, and therefore feel no need of such an association unless they are mutually useful. For they take pleasure in each other’s company only in so far as they have hopes of advantage from it.
Aristotle in The Nichomachean Ethics, 1155a3, 1156a16-1156b23 states

Friendship based on pleasure. Friendship between the young is thought to be grounded on pleasure, because the lives of the young are regulated by their feelings, and their chief interest is in their own pleasure and the opportunity of the moment. With advancing years, however, their tastes change too, so that they are quick to make and to break friendships; because their affection changes just as the things that please them do and this sort of pleasure changes rapidly. Also the young are apt to fall in love, for erotic friendship is for the most part swayed by the feelings and based on pleasure. That is why they fall in and out of friendship quickly, changing their attitude often within the same day. But the young do like to spend the day and live together, because that is how they realize the object of their friendship.

Perfect friendship is based on goodness. Only the friendship of those who are good, and similar in their goodness, is perfect. For these people each alike wish good for the other…, and they are good in themselves. And it is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality. … Friendship of this kind is permanent, reasonably enough; because in it are united all the attributes that friends ought to possess. For all friendship has as its object something good or pleasant — either absolutely or relatively to the person who feels the affection — and is based on some similarity between the parties.
…The wish for friendship develops rapidly, but friendship does not.

True friends show sympathy, care and concern for their friends. If they judge, it is in the context of the shared experiences they had and with a desire that their friend is cared for and ultimately happy. Can a friend wish their friend ill, or hope that they are unhappy, I think not. Can they still be friends even if they think that their opinion is being ignored?

Cicero also follows this line of thinking –

Let this, then, be laid down as the first law of friendship, that we should ask from friends, and do for friends’, only what is good. But do not let us wait to be asked either: let there be ever an eager readiness, and an absence of hesitation. Let us have the courage to give advice with candour. In friendship, let the influence of friends who give good advice be paramount; and let this influence be used to enforce advice not only in plain-spoken terms, but sometimes, if the case demands it, with sharpness; and when so used, let it be obeyed. (section 13)

So what happens when relationships break down. What if a friend hurts another friend? Where do true friends stand?

Often in the case of separation and divorce friends take sides. There are all sorts of reasons for that – maybe they are more sympathetic to one side over the other, maybe one side inevitably has less contact and therefore less opportunity to present their own point of view. It is interesting that often one or the other sides, loses friends who had been very close. In some cases they find it harder to move on than the divorced couples, probably because they only knew them firstly as a couple, and probably only saw them in times when conviviality and shared experiences were positive rather than negative. It may also be that the person who appears to have caused the break up of the marriage is seen as a threat to their own relationship. Because if best friends can break up when everything from the outside seems good what may happen to them?

But the discussion for me raises more questions than it answers and I do believe that the answer is different for a man and a woman.

What does it mean when you say “friends are there for you”? Does it have to be a random call every now and then to see how you are? Does it mean physically getting together and spending time doing things that you mutually enjoy? Does mean anticipating when a friend may need your help even when they don’t ask for it? Is it enough for a man to say – call me if you feel like it and is that a different expectation to what a woman has for friends?

Does it mean that you should have the courage to offer an opinion even if the opinion may be rejected? Should the rejection of the opinion mean the end to the friendship?

What is a best friend? For me that would be someone who doesn’t judge.& Maybe a person who can imagine walking that mile in your shoes. Someone who at the very least tries to understand their friends decisions even if they believe them to have been wrong.

If I had to define a friend in a few simple words it would be this. A friend is someone who tries to understand your point of view, even if they disagree with it. A best friend would be someone who stands by you irrespective of that conflict in opinion, who does not judge, but who does attempt to walk in your shoes.

Aristotle says –

The dissolution of friendship is warranted when one party has become depraved, since he has changed from being the person who was the object of friendship. But he should not be given up while there is hope of restoring his character.

So when should one give up on a friend? If you valued the relationship then you should at the very least make an effort to attempt to understand what caused the friendship to decay. Should that happen by stealth so that time and distance simply allow it to fade away?

In researching the topic I came across these quotes and it is worth pondering each of them –

MARK TWAIN on Friendship wrote –

When we think of friends, and call their faces out of the shadows, and their voices out of the echoes that faint along the corridors of memory, and do it without knowing why save that we love to do it, we content ourselves that that friendship is a Reality, and not a Fancy–that it is builded upon a rock, and not upon the sands that dissolve away with the ebbing tides and carry their monuments with them.
– Letter to Mary Mason Fairbanks

The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are in the right.
– Notebook, 1898

Henry David Thoreau
True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.
Robert Frost
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
Epicurus
It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.
William Blake
It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.
Sir Francis Bacon
We read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends.

I am hurting at the moment. Maybe I have no right to be hurt. I do understand that the break up of the marriage and therefore the break down in my friendships was my fault. But I have trouble understanding how some can move on and be happy, whilst others still seem hell bent on sheeting blame. So I am no closer to finding the nature of true friendship, maybe it actually lies in that unconditional companionship one gets from their pet dog. Those who do judge, maybe only do so because they don’t understand the other persons point of view. But shouldn’t true friends take the time to find out what that is?

The Nature of Friendship

There’s something happening that has made me examine the meaning of friendship again and I’ll write about it elsewhere but I thought I’d examine what it means to be a friend here.

One of the earliest mentions of friendship comes from Aristotle who distinguishes three different kinds of friendship. One he calls genuine friendship and the other two based on mutual usefulness and pleasure. It is the first which he says doesn’t dissolve whilst the other two are ephemeral and come and go according to need.

The first he says takes place between two good men –
‘each alike wish good for the other good, and they are good in themselves’. Aristotle continues, ‘And it is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality’ (Aristotle 1976: 263).

So what is the nature of the other two? Well Aristotle and others claim that they are based on utility which last only as long as the need for the friendship lasts. Once that is gone the frienship goes with it.

An article on Public Book Shelf states –

Friendships of this kind seem to occur most frequently between the elderly (because at their age what they want is not pleasure but utility) and those in middle or early life who are pursuing their own advantage. Such persons do not spend much time together, because sometimes they do not even like one another, and therefore feel no need of such an association unless they are mutually useful. For they take pleasure in each other’s company only in so far as they have hopes of advantage from it.
Aristotle in The Nichomachean Ethics, 1155a3, 1156a16-1156b23 states

Friendship based on pleasure. Friendship between the young is thought to be grounded on pleasure, because the lives of the young are regulated by their feelings, and their chief interest is in their own pleasure and the opportunity of the moment. With advancing years, however, their tastes change too, so that they are quick to make and to break friendships; because their affection changes just as the things that please them do and this sort of pleasure changes rapidly. Also the young are apt to fall in love, for erotic friendship is for the most part swayed by the feelings and based on pleasure. That is why they fall in and out of friendship quickly, changing their attitude often within the same day. But the young do like to spend the day and live together, because that is how they realize the object of their friendship.

Perfect friendship is based on goodness. Only the friendship of those who are good, and similar in their goodness, is perfect. For these people each alike wish good for the other…, and they are good in themselves. And it is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality. … Friendship of this kind is permanent, reasonably enough; because in it are united all the attributes that friends ought to possess. For all friendship has as its object something good or pleasant — either absolutely or relatively to the person who feels the affection — and is based on some similarity between the parties.
…The wish for friendship develops rapidly, but friendship does not.

True friends show sympathy, care and concern for their friends. If they judge, it is in the context of the shared experiences they had and with a desire that their friend is cared for and ultimately happy. Can a friend wish their friend ill, or hope that they are unhappy, I think not. Can they still be friends even if they think that their opinion is being ignored?

Cicero also follows this line of thinking –

Let this, then, be laid down as the first law of friendship, that we should ask from friends, and do for friends’, only what is good. But do not let us wait to be asked either: let there be ever an eager readiness, and an absence of hesitation. Let us have the courage to give advice with candour. In friendship, let the influence of friends who give good advice be paramount; and let this influence be used to enforce advice not only in plain-spoken terms, but sometimes, if the case demands it, with sharpness; and when so used, let it be obeyed. (section 13)

So what happens when relationships break down. What if a friend hurts another friend? Where do true friends stand?

Often in the case of separation and divorce friends take sides. There are all sorts of reasons for that – maybe they are more sympathetic to one side over the other, maybe one side inevitably has less contact and therefore less opportunity to present their own point of view. It is interesting that often one or the other sides, loses friends who had been very close. In some cases they find it harder to move on than the divorced couples, probably because they only knew them firstly as a couple, and probably only saw them in times when conviviality and shared experiences were positive rather than negative. It may also be that the person who appears to have caused the break up of the marriage is seen as a threat to their own relationship. Because if best friends can break up when everything from the outside seems good what may happen to them?

But the discussion for me raises more questions than it answers and I do believe that the answer is different for a man and a woman.

What does it mean when you say “friends are there for you”? Does it have to be a random call every now and then to see how you are? Does it mean physically getting together and spending time doing things that you mutually enjoy? Does mean anticipating when a friend may need your help even when they don’t ask for it? Is it enough for a man to say – call me if you feel like it and is that a different expectation to what a woman has for friends?

Does it mean that you should have the courage to offer an opinion even if the opinion may be rejected? Should the rejection of the opinion mean the end to the friendship?

What is a best friend? For me that would be someone who doesn’t judge.& Maybe a person who can imagine walking that mile in your shoes. Someone who at the very least tries to understand their friends decisions even if they believe them to have been wrong.

If I had to define a friend in a few simple words it would be this. A friend is someone who tries to understand your point of view, even if they disagree with it. A best friend would be someone who stands by you irrespective of that conflict in opinion, who does not judge, but who does attempt to walk in your shoes.

Aristotle says –

The dissolution of friendship is warranted when one party has become depraved, since he has changed from being the person who was the object of friendship. But he should not be given up while there is hope of restoring his character.

So when should one give up on a friend? If you valued the relationship then you should at the very least make an effort to attempt to understand what caused the friendship to decay. Should that happen by stealth so that time and distance simply allow it to fade away?

In researching the topic I came across these quotes and it is worth pondering each of them –

MARK TWAIN on Friendship wrote –

When we think of friends, and call their faces out of the shadows, and their voices out of the echoes that faint along the corridors of memory, and do it without knowing why save that we love to do it, we content ourselves that that friendship is a Reality, and not a Fancy–that it is builded upon a rock, and not upon the sands that dissolve away with the ebbing tides and carry their monuments with them.
– Letter to Mary Mason Fairbanks

The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are in the right.
– Notebook, 1898

Henry David Thoreau
True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.
Robert Frost
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
Epicurus
It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.
William Blake
It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.
Sir Francis Bacon
We read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends.

I am hurting at the moment. Maybe I have no right to be hurt. I do understand that the break up of the marriage and therefore the break down in my friendships was my fault. But I have trouble understanding how some can move on and be happy, whilst others still seem hell bent on sheeting blame. So I am no closer to finding the nature of true friendship, maybe it actually lies in that unconditional companionship one gets from their pet dog. Those who do judge, maybe only do so because they don’t understand the other persons point of view. But shouldn’t true friends take the time to find out what that is?

The Nature of Friendship

There’s something happening that has made me examine the meaning of friendship again and I’ll write about it elsewhere but I thought I’d examine what it means to be a friend here.

One of the earliest mentions of friendship comes from Aristotle who distinguishes three different kinds of friendship. One he calls genuine friendship and the other two based on mutual usefulness and pleasure. It is the first which he says doesn’t dissolve whilst the other two are ephemeral and come and go according to need.

The first he says takes place between two good men –
‘each alike wish good for the other good, and they are good in themselves’. Aristotle continues, ‘And it is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality’ (Aristotle 1976: 263).

So what is the nature of the other two? Well Aristotle and others claim that they are based on utility which last only as long as the need for the friendship lasts. Once that is gone the frienship goes with it.

An article on Public Book Shelf states –

Friendships of this kind seem to occur most frequently between the elderly (because at their age what they want is not pleasure but utility) and those in middle or early life who are pursuing their own advantage. Such persons do not spend much time together, because sometimes they do not even like one another, and therefore feel no need of such an association unless they are mutually useful. For they take pleasure in each other’s company only in so far as they have hopes of advantage from it.
Aristotle in The Nichomachean Ethics, 1155a3, 1156a16-1156b23 states

Friendship based on pleasure. Friendship between the young is thought to be grounded on pleasure, because the lives of the young are regulated by their feelings, and their chief interest is in their own pleasure and the opportunity of the moment. With advancing years, however, their tastes change too, so that they are quick to make and to break friendships; because their affection changes just as the things that please them do and this sort of pleasure changes rapidly. Also the young are apt to fall in love, for erotic friendship is for the most part swayed by the feelings and based on pleasure. That is why they fall in and out of friendship quickly, changing their attitude often within the same day. But the young do like to spend the day and live together, because that is how they realize the object of their friendship.

Perfect friendship is based on goodness. Only the friendship of those who are good, and similar in their goodness, is perfect. For these people each alike wish good for the other…, and they are good in themselves. And it is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality. … Friendship of this kind is permanent, reasonably enough; because in it are united all the attributes that friends ought to possess. For all friendship has as its object something good or pleasant — either absolutely or relatively to the person who feels the affection — and is based on some similarity between the parties.
…The wish for friendship develops rapidly, but friendship does not.

True friends show sympathy, care and concern for their friends. If they judge, it is in the context of the shared experiences they had and with a desire that their friend is cared for and ultimately happy. Can a friend wish their friend ill, or hope that they are unhappy, I think not. Can they still be friends even if they think that their opinion is being ignored?

Cicero also follows this line of thinking –

Let this, then, be laid down as the first law of friendship, that we should ask from friends, and do for friends’, only what is good. But do not let us wait to be asked either: let there be ever an eager readiness, and an absence of hesitation. Let us have the courage to give advice with candour. In friendship, let the influence of friends who give good advice be paramount; and let this influence be used to enforce advice not only in plain-spoken terms, but sometimes, if the case demands it, with sharpness; and when so used, let it be obeyed. (section 13)

So what happens when relationships break down. What if a friend hurts another friend? Where do true friends stand?

Often in the case of separation and divorce friends take sides. There are all sorts of reasons for that – maybe they are more sympathetic to one side over the other, maybe one side inevitably has less contact and therefore less opportunity to present their own point of view. It is interesting that often one or the other sides, loses friends who had been very close. In some cases they find it harder to move on than the divorced couples, probably because they only knew them firstly as a couple, and probably only saw them in times when conviviality and shared experiences were positive rather than negative. It may also be that the person who appears to have caused the break up of the marriage is seen as a threat to their own relationship. Because if best friends can break up when everything from the outside seems good what may happen to them?

But the discussion for me raises more questions than it answers and I do believe that the answer is different for a man and a woman.

What does it mean when you say “friends are there for you”? Does it have to be a random call every now and then to see how you are? Does it mean physically getting together and spending time doing things that you mutually enjoy? Does mean anticipating when a friend may need your help even when they don’t ask for it? Is it enough for a man to say – call me if you feel like it and is that a different expectation to what a woman has for friends?

Does it mean that you should have the courage to offer an opinion even if the opinion may be rejected? Should the rejection of the opinion mean the end to the friendship?

What is a best friend? For me that would be someone who doesn’t judge.& Maybe a person who can imagine walking that mile in your shoes. Someone who at the very least tries to understand their friends decisions even if they believe them to have been wrong.

If I had to define a friend in a few simple words it would be this. A friend is someone who tries to understand your point of view, even if they disagree with it. A best friend would be someone who stands by you irrespective of that conflict in opinion, who does not judge, but who does attempt to walk in your shoes.

Aristotle says –

The dissolution of friendship is warranted when one party has become depraved, since he has changed from being the person who was the object of friendship. But he should not be given up while there is hope of restoring his character.

So when should one give up on a friend? If you valued the relationship then you should at the very least make an effort to attempt to understand what caused the friendship to decay. Should that happen by stealth so that time and distance simply allow it to fade away?

In researching the topic I came across these quotes and it is worth pondering each of them –

MARK TWAIN on Friendship wrote –

When we think of friends, and call their faces out of the shadows, and their voices out of the echoes that faint along the corridors of memory, and do it without knowing why save that we love to do it, we content ourselves that that friendship is a Reality, and not a Fancy–that it is builded upon a rock, and not upon the sands that dissolve away with the ebbing tides and carry their monuments with them.
– Letter to Mary Mason Fairbanks

The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are in the right.
– Notebook, 1898

Henry David Thoreau
True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.
Robert Frost
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
Epicurus
It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.
William Blake
It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.
Sir Francis Bacon
We read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends.

I am hurting at the moment. Maybe I have no right to be hurt. I do understand that the break up of the marriage and therefore the break down in my friendships was my fault. But I have trouble understanding how some can move on and be happy, whilst others still seem hell bent on sheeting blame. So I am no closer to finding the nature of true friendship, maybe it actually lies in that unconditional companionship one gets from their pet dog. Those who do judge, maybe only do so because they don’t understand the other persons point of view. But shouldn’t true friends take the time to find out what that is?

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.

They Don’t Understand

I am beginning to think that one of my greatest failures was to tread water after the separation. Perhaps I should have made decisions more quickly to allow the healing process to begin earlier. I’ve thought about that over and over again and I keep coming up with the same conclusion. I wasn’t able to.

Whether the midlife episode includes a separation or the desire to buy a fast car or drop out of the ratrace for a while is in a lot of ways immaterial. For me it was characterised by confusion, by a total lack of self esteem [and I’ll tackle that one in another post] and an inability to actually put things into context.

I was not able to actually move forward until I had a number of counselling sessions and I was finally able to put some of my childhood beliefs into context. And that was the true revelation.

I had grown up thinking that I had shouldered responsibilities that were thrust upon me from an early age when what I had actually done was run away from them and hidden in my bedroom through much of my teenage years. As a consequence I grew up unable to open myself up to truly intimate contact or to true deep and abiding friendship.

Am I going to apologise for treading water? No. I couldn’t do anything else until I had sorted through all the other baggage and the problem was I didn’t even know what the baggage was at the time. So for those who criticise that indecisiveness consider what you may also do in the same situation because you may one day also walk in my shoes.

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