Living In A Bubble

Monday, May 27, 2013
Some days I feel like I've been living in a bubble for the last 40 years.
Let me explain....

I grew up in a small town where everyone knew each other and everyone looked out for each other. People were kind. People invited you over to their house for lunch. It wasn't just a 'come over for a casual BBQ and let me tell you what's going on in my life," but it was more the attitude of "I want to get to know you. I want to know what your life is like."

And I thought the world was still like that. I honestly did. Because I'm like that myself. I hate impersonal get-togethers with meaningless conversations about the weather or your job or your kids or your clothes. It frustrates me that noone wants to sit down for a few hours and have in-depth conversation. It's all rush-rush, scratch the surface kind of companionship. 

Does anyone else get what I mean? And I feel like I'm just waking up to the fact that the world isn't like that anymore, and that people aren't like that anymore either. It's all about "Look what I've got. Look what I do. Look what I have. You are privileged to know me."

Seriously, is it just me, or has the world changed? Does it just mean that I've finally grown up and the bloom is being brushed off the surface of my world, or is the world in general self-absorbed?

What triggered off these thoughts for me this morning was running into an old family friend who I have invited over and over to come to things we are doing or dinner or lunch or a party etc, etc, and they have always found excuses to not come. This last time they didn't even phone (after they said they would) to cancel. So this morning, after seeing them, I graciously shrugged it off and said, "Oh there'll be another time," and then they told me how they're so busy renovating a house etc, etc. Should I take that as a hint, or are people just so wrapped up in themselves that they don't know how to be polite anymore.
I honestly don't think they intend to be rude, but more and more it seems to me that the art of cordiality and politeness and just courtesy in general is fading into the past.

Also, as it happens, I texted an old friend this morning - someone who I have called one of my closest friends - because it has been awhile since we last talked - and the text I get back was all about the exciting things that are happening. And I am happy for them, really I am. But as I put the phone back into my bag it suddenly struck me that this person never asked how I was, how we were doing, what we were doing. This supposedly close friend hasn't got a clue as to what is going on in my life. What does that say? About them? About me?

I had a little of the bloom rubbed off my world last year. The kind of thing that happens where you start questioning a lot of things. Alot of friendships. Alot of decisions that you have made.

I kind of withdrew into myself for a little bit, until I wrote it all out (as I am doing here - really it's wonderfully therapeutic), and as I have slowly triumphed over that and come out the other end I look back and realise that there are people who I thought were my good friends. People I have shared fun times with, and deep thoughts and secrets and conversation, and I have not heard from them in over a year. Unless I make the contact first.

Because we have lived in many different places in New Zealand, alot of my good friends are scattered all over the place, but that's ok, because they were the kind of friendships that you can just pick up where you left off. Some of my friends have been through difficult times and I have been there for them, but at the end of my difficult time, it slowly dawned on me that I hadn't heard from them. At all. It was like an 'a-ha' moment.

There's a sadness in that, for me. And a slight creeping into my soul of cynacism. I don't want to look on the world with cynical or bitter eyes. I want to hold on to the romance and beauty and naivety of my youth and my outlook on the world. But it's hard in the light of these modern times, and in the slow dawning that it is a rare thing - an extremely rare thing - to find a man or a woman who is not self-absorbed.

It is a lesson to me, that in spite of the knockbacks, not to become just another soul-less person who takes what they can and not give anything back. It's hard to be like that in the world of hard-knocks. It's a fight.

It's a worthwhile fight, but there is a price to pay.

And so today, I feel a kinship with Lizzie from Pride and Prejudice, or should that be Jane Austen. For her to write such a thing, she must have felt it, known it, experienced it....

"The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense."


Heather L. said...

Yes, your observations are correct. The world is changing.....I can related completely to the realization that in a conversation I was never asked a question of. That doesn't work for developing a balanced relationship. ACtually, I've spent the last year and a half reading a lot of friendship books and thinking a lot about this. I've been comparing friendships to my garden which after many years is finally beginning to be something really nice. I have a lot of perennials and they come back stronger and bigger every year. It takes a few years for them to get established but then they are there for good. I don't do that many annuals in the garden because I can't afford to plant them year after year -- kind of the same with friends. You have to put your time and effort where it is going to reap benefits, also being mindful that there will always be a few annuals around the edges. And then there is the awful surprise (which you seem to have come across several recently) when you thought you had a perennial and it turned into an annual! Does this make any sense? Anyway, some of my own private pondering and analogies. Amazing how much energy good friendships can take (but also give!!). Part of me hates the idea of ever moving from here -- for one I'd have to start all over with my lovely garden and the other part hates the thought that I'd have to start all over with the garden of friendship!

Julia said...

I love love love that quote, Rachel. And yes, I agree...the world is changing...and I think, not for the better! Yes we have many electronic devices that (supposedly) make life easier/better/faster but look at how they also corrode the very nature of relationships and communication!

I really like what Heather has said in her comment about friends and gardens. Very true. I think too though that like seasons of the year there's seasons in friendships and some get diseased, so it's best to just cut them out!

Sandy Addison said...

Friendships are important and I know I am guilty of not investing time in them. Thanks for the lovely reminder. It is interesting this is exactly the reason why I have not invested time in building many friendships in the school community as am fed up with the superficiality. Thank you for your friendship over the years!

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