It’s a sentiment + resentment that’s been growing in me. The grove of trees represents my ideal for those around me and just people in general, the words represent what I’ve been feeling when I look outward.
As I get older, it’s a recurring theme that people that I was close to tend to grow apart. In experience, interests, values, etc. I don’t think this is a new observation. People grow, and growth inherently means change. My issue isn’t with the growth or the change, it’s with the distance that seems to come between people through the growth.
I have a friend, who is more like a brother than a friend. We’ve stayed close since we were both 4 years old. Whenever I’ve told people this in the past, many would tell me how lucky I was and how uncommon it is to have a connection like that, etc.
Looking at where me and this friend are now, we don’t see each other enough, we don’t talk very much, and we always complain about it to each other via text and telephone conversation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lamented to him, or vice versa, that we need to be spending more time together. Yet, it doesn’t happen. We literally spend more time talking about spending time together than we do actually spending time together. And this is actually a positive example of the distance I’m referring to. There’s definitely a darker side to this.
The issue extends beyond my close friends, it’s also inherent in the changing relationships and structure I see in my extended family. Growing up, I was very close with my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. As time wore on, people got older, situations changed, untimely and tragic deaths occurred that completely changed the surface of our family unit.
But, even without all that, I wonder if the same distance that’s now present between us would still exist. Do people just tend to grow apart out of distaste for each other, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, not having the time, or simply boredom and apathy?
This goes deeper than just distance geographically. The emotional distance that develops between family and friends is almost more pervasive, even with people that live close by. It’s like that awkward silence with strangers on an elevator, but you start to feel that anxiety with people you’ve known most of you life—and it just feels weird and bad.
It’s like out of the expectations we have for the world, we start to project on those closest to us. If you don’t meet that, I’m gonna put miles and miles real or perceived between us so you don’t affect my bubble of reality. Because IF we allow the disappointment of that person not meeting our expectations to be too close to us on a regular basis, we threaten the very foundation of our own sense of self and happiness. That kind of sounds dramatic, but that really how it feels! Both in the doing and the being done to.
I guess it’s naive to expect people to accept others for who and how they are, but isn’t that the goal of love?
This issue weighs on me even greater when I look at the parallels of this sentiment in our country and our world. We are creating more and more silos of existence. Places where we can isolate ourselves away from the “baddies”. We all become someone else’s enemy. And, in the process, we remove the remotest possibility of compromise or harmony. Sometimes I wonder to myself if I could bring my family and friends back together, if I could make the change on a personal level, then maybe the world could too. But, I don’t know. Maybe I am just focusing on those that aren’t close to me, instead of focusing on those who are.
Better yet, maybe I’m looking outward when I should be looking in.
Also published on Medium.