The Lasting Influence of Fleeting Friends

I firmly believe that relationships are a lot like the tide: they come in, they go out, but usually they come back in—at some point and in some manner, but they’re never fully gone. Even if things end “badly” or we never lay eyes upon them again, those ties are never fully cut. They can’t be, because we lived them. You know?

 

As a re-booter, I have grown to see that not all friendships are meant to endure the test of time. More often than not, they are contextual, arising out of a certain set of circumstances and mutual need, and when that context has ebbed away, so too will many of these attachments. Does that mean these people have only limited allure or that we’re fair weather friends? Yes and no. And I say this as someone who considers herself supremely loyal.

 

Relationships are forged because somebody appeals to us and we to them. Each of us brings to the table certain qualities that the other lacks or could use more of. Let’s face it: we’re not going to bother being friends with someone we don’t admire or whom we consider repulsive. Nobody does that—not in the long run, at any rate. Friendships like these usually fill different needs in our lives depending on what stage we’re in. How often we forge such bonds depends on how social or introverted we are, but, setting all this lead up aside, I believe that no matter how busy or quiet our social lives may be, each of us has had what I term at least one “transformational” friend.

 

What I mean by this is some person who has said something to us or impacted us in some way that midwifed a crucial change within us or helped us make sense of a difficult period. This person needn’t be a romantic partner. They need not be someone you’ve known forever, and they may show up in the most unlikely of guises, but they somehow facilitated a significant shift in how we live our lives or how we think about ourselves.

 

Who has been a “transformational” friend for you?

 

I’ll give you an example to get you thinking. Back in Santa Barbara, I met someone who was intended to be my rival. Both cast in a play not of our making, it was hoped that we’d grow to loathe each other and work hard to tear the other down. The person who hatched such a plan is beyond disgusting in my book, but their purposes were pretty clear from the beginning. There were many reasons why things might have worked this nefarious way—but such enmity was not meant to be. In fact, as it turns out, we became terrific friends and stalwart supports of one another, sympathetic to the struggles each was confronting.

 

Having such surprising and compassionate support from a most unlikely source was a great comfort as I waded my way through some very rough terrain. And just because the immediate crisis fell away, the same remains true to this day. We remain friends, as shocking as that would be to certain people.

 

I’ve written this before, but one of the things I like best about life is its capacity to surprise us with marvelous, unexpected gifts that we could never dream up and arriving in packages we’d never give a second glance. I’ve been blessed to have more than one such surprise come down the pike, and it reminds me that even when I feel ground down and progress appears to be nonexistent, every now and then, a bolt from the blue fills my sky and shifts my perspective.

 

Who has been one of life’s most wonderful surprises for you? How has knowing this person changed the way you think?

 

The briefest of interactions count, so there’s no criteria to consider for this question other than whoever first springs to mind–remember, I’m focusing on positive impacts. This is a feel good post. What fellow journeyman has helped you cross that bridge to a better self?

 

Because there is one.

 Cloudy bridge

 

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