29 December 2010

December 16 - Friendship

How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

I learned very early on that if you continuously stew your brain in a stock made up of old ideas, you will one day open your mouth to speak and nobody will understand a fucking thing you say. Because your mouth will be full of crazy soup. To keep crazy soup off the menu, you need a kitchen full of diverse, competent chefs, which is to say that I may deal in lousy metaphors, but my friends are like saffron to my life. You know – a rare and expensive seasoning you sometimes have to go to Southwest Asia to find. That’s actually not too far off the mark.

My most important perspective shifts have almost always come from friends. Boyfriends (and fiancĂ©es and husbands) are stuffed into the same perspective pot as you within about thirty seconds of your toothbrushes mating in a cup on the bathroom windowsill, by which time you should be finishing each other’s sentences and arguing about whose turn it is to use the communal brain. So whilst you can rely on your partner to tell you that No, you are not getting fatter, that doorway is just contracting because it's cold in here you certainly wouldn’t expect them to come home one day and hand you the meaning of life. That would be inconceivable, and also wrong, as it is your job to retain the upper hand at any cost.

The first time I can remember another human being seriously changing my perspective on life (which in turn changed me into a whole new person, practically) was in university. We were actually in the university. I’d just skipped another one of my electives to sip coffee sludge and smoke cigarettes in the student’s union bar and he was on his way to class. I was trying to be cool about the fact that I was wasting my tuition money, and he told me that, actually, he really liked school. I thought this was a novel idea, or maybe I was just being polite, so I asked him to elaborate. He said something along the lines of enjoying being able to amass as much knowledge about the world as he could. And I was like: huh.

And that ‘Huh’ stayed with me all day, until I too was eager to become a vessel for enlightenment, and to see how far I could stretch my mind. It turned out to be much further than I ever thought possible, actually, and to this day I still believe that anyone can learn anything they want, if they go into it with the right mindset. Determination is important, but mostly you need to give yourself over to the fact that you don’t yet know something, and then (here’s the tricky part) make a home of indeterminate dimensions for that something, because whatever it turns out to be, you’ll want it to feel welcome when it arrives. Wax on, wax off. That sort of thing.

Anyway. All this to say: friends can change your perspective in both small and profound ways, and that’s something you have to be open to as well. It’s also something you need to make time for, which I’ve been rubbish at doing this year. It’s mainly because I’ve got this kid to look after. I love him to bits, and soon I will need to learn how to live my life as though that love doesn’t take up every metric inch of space I own. So I’m looking at ways in which other mothers achieve that balance, and I’m taking notes. Mentally, in my big old empty pot of soup, which by now is a reduction of Thomas the Tank Engine and Sudocrem. It’s also because of social anxiety, and soon I guess I will need to learn how to deal with this in ways that don’t involve resveratrol.

Written in participation with #Reverb10. Read my complete set of posts here.

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