Revisiting From Tomatoes to Friendship: 5 years later

Chapter 6. Representing the title I’ve chosen the book to have.

My dad once told me a story about his father and grandfather. He said that they used to have this gardening competition every year. A way to keep in touch and include each other in life. They argued and fought but that wasn’t the point. The point was the togetherness. They grew all sorts of things but it was the tomatoes that counted to them. Who’s looked the best, tasted the best, who had more of them. Silly things that probably didn’t matter to anyone else but it mattered to them. It’s things like that that make up a family and a life. Little traditions that seem silly but you enjoy despite anyone else.

It wasn’t about who won the tomato competition – that was a game just because they could. It didn’t matter that they argued. They were still family and they were a part of each other’s lives and again that was the point. We are all driven nuts by our families at times, sometimes more than others but they’re still part of us and our lives. Everyone’s family is dysfunctional in it’s own way. We all have our faults and arguments and we are who we are. Dynamics change and shift as we age and families fall apart as some leave this plane. But each and every family has it’s lessons, traditions and memories. Everything about them can teach you something.

Relationships with friends, family, lovers, acquaintances etc, are what you put into them. If you put enough time and effort into friendships those people can become family. Some people you just click with and others you just want to run away from. Family like friends are similar in a sense that you’re closer to some than others and you can avoid them if you want to or you can spend as much time with them as you please. But family has a different connotation when it comes to bonds. You share blood. You share experiences. You share knowledge. History, an ancestry. Traditions. Friends can become family after a certain point and though it can be better it still isn’t the same.

Relationships in our lives have a way of shaping us as well as experiences. Those we have by our side teaching us, guiding us, living it with us have a special place in our hearts and in our memories. Those that sat there and listened while we poured our hearts out over something we thought was a major ordeal at the time. Those that spent some of our happiest moments sharing in the experiences. Those that we were there for that we know we can count on no matter what. Relationships matter. Yes we all have a way of fucking things up but eh it is what it is. Friendships, relationships of any kind grow and change. Some people play a guest star and some people play a recurring role in your life. They can teach you about anything and everything. They are the ones you live up to, can live vicariously though, can resent or relish in the moment with. They are the people we choose to surround ourselves with and those we never forget.

These people don’t always have to be there for the betterment of anything. They could make things worse. They could just be there in general. Who knows. Family and family ties tend to be a little stronger but they also function a little differently. They function with an assumption that you’ll be there on holidays. They come with a clause. It’s not always a bad thing but it’s a little different than some friendships. But when you get to a certain point with a friend – the familial clause also exists. You’re now expected to be a part of that person’s life and hopefully you think that’s a good thing.

Friendship is something everyone needs in life. Your friends help shape your life and they can also help change your life for better or worse. We all start out at some point with friends that we “grew up with.” Those are friends that came in and out of our lives since we have been young children. These are people you can, not talk to for years and then out of nowhere say, “hey remember me?” and then end up talking for hours about “old times.” These are people that as a kid you remember random things from birthday parties or just playing tag in the back yard. If you can keep yourself surrounded by these people, the people you know and trust without question, the people you can count on to have your back, life is good.

Then there are those you gain later in life that you build memories with. These people can slowly become what you call close friends. Now, because you have realized that playtime no longer consists of boys vs. girls tag on the playground or that never ending game of hide and seek, friendship builds to new levels. You are always going to have that one person known as your partner in crime, who has gone through everything with you and you know each other so well that you can just look at each other and know what they’re thinking. Over the years your partner in crime may change but that doesn’t mean you lose the original, it means you’ve gained another. Then there’s the friend that blows you off over and over again, but you keep them around for reasons unbeknownst to you and because you wouldn’t have them be anyone else, but themselves. You have that friend that comes in and out of your life, but is always there if you just need someone to rant and rave to about your latest problem or crisis. That friend that if you wanna go grab a drink and put the day’s events out of your mind they will be happy to go along for the ride. We all think about that friend that we cared about more than as just friends but they’re one that got away. We may not always think of them but deep down somewhere inside you, there’s that last “what if you had done something different” thought that says you could have changed things, but in reality most likely wouldn’t have done so. There are a million types of friends in this world, where do you fit in?

Friends make you who you are as much as events in your life make and shape you. If you don’t have any friends, events that pull you down can be so much worse because there’s no one there to catch you and help pick up the pieces. Friends are people who you come to know and respect but those you can still “break ‘em” on until the end of time because of, “that one thing that happened ten years ago that you still won’t let them forget or live down” still is part of your friendship.

On the other hand people have ways of driving each other insane. Friends come and go in your life and they always will, but those who have your back today might not always be there tomorrow. Your friends are your support system just as much, if not more, than your family is or should be. Friends are the people you surround yourself with. People you tell your deepest darkest secrets to and share your best and worst memories with. They are the people who should know you just as much as you know yourself – for the most part. However, friends only know as much about you as you are willing to tell them. They can only understand as much about you, as you are willing to let them or as much as you understand about yourself at the time. People need each other; there is no doubt about that. We depend on each other to get through the day whether it’s by helping us do our job, helping with everyday chores, helping with kids or pets, being there for us in our best and worst moments, or just relaxing at the end of a long week.

Friendship is hard to come by. Especially true friendship. By true friendship I mean, the people that you know have your back at a second’s notice even if it may cost them something. And I don’t mean heavily cost them, but people you know you can count on. Time has a cost of its own. I’m talking about the friends you can call your family, those you can stand to be around every minute of everyday and still miss them when they’re gone for five minutes. Those you can be parted from for months or years and then the first time you reconvene, your friendship has never changed and it’s as if nothing ever happened. It’s as though even though you may have updated them on random points of your life and the drama and happenings that you deemed most important at the time, these chosen few or many if you’re obscenely lucky, will always be there. They won’t ever seem to let you down. These are the people that are there when you yourself, have little faith in you –yourself.

Friends are necessary for life. It’s the reason why TV shows like Friends, Sex and the City, Seinfeld, the list goes on are such successes. They’re shows that are built around friends living with and around each other. It shows their ups, downs, ins, outs, and needs for one another. People relate to these shows because they are things that may seem outrageous and funny to someone but could in fact be someone else’s life. We all have those moments in life that we can connect with some movie or television show somewhere. Whether it’s because of a break up or a friendship. A family member or an in-law. These shows sell because they’re life at it’s finest and lowest. They prove that people need people. They give you a false sense of making best friends and keeping them but they still prove that we need each other to survive whatever the world throws at us because without them we’re goners.

 

 

 

The Balance of Control

It was about a day ago that I found an old notebook I used to write in. I’ve kept many a notebook filled with random writings through the years. I just read a similar post to something I was going to write, but this finally gave me the fuel I needed to pull it off. Here goes.

I’ve been going through a bit of a ringer year. To say the least it’s been handing my ass in more ways than one. I’ve been doing some soul searching and trying to figure things out. I tend to do this every so often when things don’t seem to go in a direction I’d like. I’ve figured out some things about myself and I’ve re-figured out somethings I forgot about. You’d be surprised at what you can learn about yourself despite the holes left by what you didn’t write down.

I read through my old diary if you choose to call it that. I realized that I’ve been experiencing similar issues for the last decade. I’ve realized that I only write down the bad shit. And other than having more insight into my own personal beliefs and ways of doing things years ago, I tend to be more creative or inventive when I’m at my lowest. Who knew?

I’ve been thinking the last few days about my own happiness. About how fragile it is and how it hangs in the balance amidst everything. After reading all the bad crazy shit, it made me start to try to document the happy things. I’ve made detailed logs of trips and vacations I’ve taken and moments I was at my happiest – But those I usually kept separated as if not to tarnish them by the bad I wished to let out and forget.

I’ve been through a lot of crazy stuff in the past. I tend to be my own worst enemy. I’ve been working on the happiness factor yet it’s all such a delicate balance. I find myself so far removed from the person I once was yet so much the same that it’s insane. How do you figure out the balance when you’re five seconds from falling over? How can you be so close to contentedness or happiness and yet be so close to free falling?

Life is a journey. The world is a mess. The world we live in is ass backwards in countless ways, yet changing it is damned near impossible. Most people spend their lives doing what they’ve been told to do. They don’t question the norm. They don’t blur the lines. Push limits. They can find happiness easily – or so I’m told. I’m not one of those people. I never have been. Old soul I’ve been told. Wise beyond my years. Yet – I’m lost in the middle of a crowded wood in the dark hoping to find my life and my way back to the clearing. Feeling lost in the dark like a little kid trying to walk to mom and dad’s room down the hall.

But it brings me back to my point, generally as people we all want the same thing. Some write to express, Some write to let the crazy out. We want to live the happiness. To hold onto it. To own it. Yet it isn’t documented. Well newsflash – I don’t know how to be proud of what I’ve accomplished. I don’t know the true value of myself. Confidence I have. Intelligence yeah that too. Stupidity – we all have our moments. The ability to look at myself objectively – at times. I can honestly say this last year brought me to my lowest low to date. And so close to that low, happiness or contentedness was gained.

I reread the past. Realized as much as I’ve grown past that, maybe it’s true and somethings will never change. Maybe I just haven’t found my calling, my fate or my destiny if you so choose to believe in that. I’m a believer in many things. I believe we can control our own happiness but only to an extent. We make choices and they change our surroundings little by little. We choose what we become from those choices. What we make of the chances we do and don’t take is life. But so much of life is experience. Life is experience. So why write only the bad?

Do we find ourselves less worthy of remembering the good? Or are they personal lessons for us to reflect on later when we realize that, “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know shit.” Can we accept everyone to be a teacher? Do we accept that we may all have a place in this world and regardless we live it out? There are so many people and things of greatness, do you strive to be one of them or do you live amongst the rest? Do we wait for others to point out what we don’t see for ourselves? Do we document the good the bad and the crazy?

As the saying goes, history tends to repeat itself. Well what about personal history? Does happiness hang in the balance of choice or is it thrust upon you? Do we every truly know ourselves? Is it because of the documented mishaps that we learn the most from?

There are many books that speak of identification by a single word. Some stories say that if you figure out someone’s word, then you can control them. That understanding is key. That to know your word is to truly know yourself. That it isn’t what you do (in terms of occupation) but who you are. Are we masters of our destiny? Can we be? We can control what we remember, what we choose to value and what we want to be remembered for as a legacy- but perception changes everything. Who you are and where you stand changes everything. Despite the documenting of the bad do we move forward with the good in memories? Trying to find the light in the dark is no easy task but trying to hold onto it seems to be a coveted notion.

Can we figure out our own word based on documentation? Is the documentation the true key to happiness? Let’s say even if we choose to be happy and can remember the good… can we truly keep our balance? Or is life just semi controlled chaos in a world that’s spiraling out of control?