Once upon a time Columbus was told that he could not sail to India because he would fall of the edge of the earth…. or so the legend goes. Columbus got in that boat of his and sailed anyway, and never fell off, of course, since the earth is round.
But I’m beginning to think that legend may be on to something, because people are constantly falling off the edges of my world.
I’m sure it happens in your neck of the woods too. Someone’s name or face pops into your subconscious and you realize you have no idea where they are or what they’re doing. A Christmas card arrives in the mail and you’re shocked at how the kids have grown. All 902 people on your friends list pop up on your FB page to wish you a Happy Birthday, but you can’t even remember where you met 407 of them. The top 10 names on your call display change and that’s just normal life.
We bump and crash into multiple people everyday. We share a mountaintop experience, or band together during a crisis, or click over shared hobbies and interests.
And then we get lazy. We treat friends and family like a commodity instead of the non-renewable resource they are. (This of course we herald as busyness….)
I’m a total extrovert, not in the stereotypical ‘life of the party’ sense, but in the literal sense that I get my energy from being around people. And I have some insecurities which means the grey area between being alone and being lonely is an extremely short space for me. On the first day I’ll wonder what so-and-so is up to. And maybe on the second too. But by the third day I’m wondering why so-and-so isn’t wondering what I’m up to…. and something weird happens because instead of just calling/texting/emailing/stopping by I assume they stepped off the edge of my world on purpose. I’ve been neck deep in school for the past month and most of those days I have done that dance in my head where I think of someone and maybe I’ll touch base with them, except my phone hasn’t rung or text noise hasn’t beeped or my inbox has been empty for weeks, so why should I bother…..
The truth is that more often than not people fall off the edges of our worlds because we retreat in times of crisis, we get tunnel-vision when we’re in the middle of change, we navel-gaze when we have heavy loads. When we feel like someone has let us go, it’s more likely that we never tried to grab their hand in the first place.
And then you overhear something or bump into a friend of a friend, (or read something obscure on social media) and that’s when you learn about the death, or the diagnosis, the marriage, or the move, the baby, or the break up going on in other people’s worlds. That’s when you realize they didn’t step off the edge of your world, you let them slip.
I think maybe those guys with the flat earth theory are onto something, and maybe instead of wondering where people go, we should build better bridges.
I have been working on changing my perspective on things this year, and this is a smaller piece of a much bigger thought I’ve been thinking through… relationships are challenging things and I think we can learn a lot from the past in order to make our future better…..I’ll be back with the next piece…… until then I wish you bridges over edges.