The things we find as we get older, and (most importantly) the things we leave behind…

time-goes-bySo Saturday afternoon while I was downtown I ended up having an impromptu lunch with old and new friends that included two people I’ve known since 2d grade and another I’ve known since high school.

Yeah, I know, what what?

Yes, it’s true, I actually spend quite a bit of time these days with people I didn’t have any connection with for over 30 years.  There’s actually been lots of reconnecting since I moved back to Lakeland in 2009.  It’s nice.  Really.  Comforting in a way.  Building modern relationships based on connections that were made years ago – remembering the curly-haired girl and knowing the woman she is today.  If you haven’t reconnected with your old friends yet I suggest you try.  It’s a different dynamic, and thank you social media for this gift, because you’re the avenue where these friendships are being built.

But anyway, I’m digressing, back to what I saw Saturday as I sat at that table and looked at faces that still look the same, just a little older, is not the people I’m with but instead the people who are not there today.  Seeing those faces, and going through my mental rolodex my eureka moment was in discovering that today I am surrounded by people who are not the people I ever expected to be there at this point in my life.  What I mean is that my circle of friends today is comprised mostly of people I never expected to be connected to today.  While we did go to school together, for the most part we were not close, more acquaintances, and in some cases we were only barely on speaking terms.  Yet today we’re very close.  We connect frequently.  We choose each other as friends today, with our long-time connection as the bedrock but not the only reason why we’re friends now.

But what’s more interesting to me are the faces that aren’t there at all.  The connections that I thought would last forever that have not.  The deep friendships that are now only passing acquaintances.  The people I thought I’d never lose that are long gone, lost to time, life, and the changes we move through as we become adults and more.

Life goes on – with or without them or you or me.

Yeah, I said that.  People come into our lives for a moment, a day, a season, or a lifetime.  Connections are built and lost.  People change.  Or they don’t.  And I’ve actually found out that some of my closest connections have not.  Changed that is.  Moved forward in life.  And let me tell you, there’s nothing sadder than adults who’re still acting like the same kids they were 30+ years ago.  That’s just damned tragic.  And It’s those connections that I’ve left behind.  Walked away.  Because life is too short.  It goes on.  And all of the teenage angst and goth unhappiness that seemed such a cool persona backintheday is more than a little tiresome here in the modern world.

Just leave it behind.  Or be left behind yourself.

Yes, I’ve done that.  Deliberately left people behind.  I’m doing it today.  I’m doing it every time I choose who I want to be surrounded by.  And yes, the missing faces are hard, because I miss the connection they represent.  But I’m always moving forward with feet in both the present and the past and I remember those spaces that are empty today but I know that for today, this me doesn’t need them.  So I don’t look back for long… because I know that there are things that are healthy and things that are not.  Just like there are people who love me, and people who do not.  And so I leave those who do not behind and move forward with the ones who do.  Because life is short.

Too short.

I love my life today. And to all my friends, most especially my girlfriends, I love you all and the connections I have to you that have so enriched this season of my life and made it so full.  Life is filled with layers and there’s no such thing as too many friends and I am blessed to have some of the best.  And my lesson for you all is to never forget to look outside of the expected when you’re connecting with people from your life.  The treasures in my life have all been found in the unexpected.

Embrace the unexpected.

The gifts you receive from doing that might amaze you.