Monday, December 26, 2005

Presence and Presents...........

"My friends have made the story of my life. In a thousand ways they have turned my limitations into beautiful privileges, and enabled me to walk serene and happy in the shadow cast by my deprivation." (Helen Keller).

Since I was away on Christmas, I am going to use today - the day after Christmas - otherwise known as "Boxing Day" in the UK, Australia and even Canada - as a way of sharing how the presence of my friends and family in my life, is the greatest present that I could ever ask for.

When you really think about it - the presents that a family or friend gives you - how often do you wind up taking the gift, enjoying it for a little while and then after a few months (or maybe even weeks) putting it away? Or, in some cases, how often have you taken that gift and either given it to someone else or returned it for "something else."

I'm not saying that returning a gift is a life-threatening event; but what I am saying is that I think all this gift giving makes us lose sight of our family and friends for what they are really "worth" - the best presents that anyone could ask for.

The great thing about family and friends, is that the present of their presence is intangible. It comes without price, because it is just that......priceless. Putting a price "tag" on how much a friend is "worth" to you, limits the respect of the friendship.

Yes, I've heard it numerous times before - we can choose our friends, but we can't choose our family. Yes, that is true. However, if you dislike your family (or certain family members) is it because of something they did wrong to you? When I say wrong I'm talking life-threatening. Did they beat you? Did they shoot you (at you) with a gun? Did they yell and yell at you over and over and over again to the point of bringing you down and making you feel stupid? If so, I can understand you not appreciating your family as much. If they haven't, then if I may quote my friend Jen........."Build your bridge and get over it!"

They are family, damnit! Maybe it's time to look in the mirror and appreciate who they are and not who they are not. I'm sure that if you do have a "grudge" with a family member, you can either appreciate the beauty of actually having a mother, father, brother, sister (whatever family member it may be that you have a "problem" with) or - you can pretend that you are four years old and act like a four year old. (btw, this is with no disrespect to four year olds, it's just that when you are four - this is sometimes how you act. But it's acceptable because you don't know any better!)

As far as your friends are concerned, well do you invest enough time with them? And are they people who will build you up and not tear you down? Because there are no excuses with friends - there are no "blood bonds" with friends like you have with family. So if your friends are selfish, bring you down or disrespect you........then you owe it to yourself to find new friends. If not, then why do you think you're probably feeling down all the time. And if you're not - then I almost hate to say it, but it's probably because of a drug or alcohol.

Yeah, if you noticed I did say "invest" time. Because friendships are just that - investments. I want to get the most "return" on my time that I'm with someone. I want to feel respected, appreciated, and listened to. It's an easy topic. And one thing you'll find - at least if you're my friend, is that the more that you "invest" into a friendship with me (mutual respect, appreciation, communication), the more that I will want to "hang out" with you. And hopefully you'll feel the same.

I have friends like that right now. Plus I have friends who at time I would say I "spend" time with. But as long as the time together is more "investment" - I have little problem with it.

Problem I have is with people who disrespect me. I'll be honest with you guys; in the past people would walk over me and such. I almost wonder if it was because of the depression - partly because or maybe even because I felt that since I never spoke about the depression, a part of me was missing. Well you know what? It isn't anymore.

I used to have a friend who didn't show me the same respect as I did them. When I would call or e-mail there seemed to ALWAYS be an excuse as to why they didn't call/e-mail back. I really used to appreciate this person because they seemed very sweet - seemed being the operative word - to the point where I even did some things to show them that I listened and cared before they went on a trip.

Well, let's just say that following numerous e-mails and phone calls over a 4-5 week period of time (after they got back); I've stopped caring about the person because of their serious lack of respect. If I saw the person, I wouldn't give them the time of day. Crude/rude? Yeah; but you know what - you have to stand up for yourself. No one else will.

But guys one thing I will say, is NEVER disrespect your friends - at least not the ones that you want to keep. I will openly say that if my friends "take me for granted" here and there - well, when they call, they may not receive a call back when they want to hear from me, but when I want to call them. That can take days. Because respect is earned yes, but at the same time, you need to stand up for yourself.

So when you really think about your friends, not just your friends, but the people in your life who make you happiest to be around - those are your friends. Not people who ALWAYS want to be with you because you make them happy and get little if anything back; but people who appreciate you, show you that appreciation and respect. Those are true friends. And those true friends you have to appreciate the present of their presence.

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