Sunday, October 19, 2014

Transience and Transitions

I've written several times on this blog about friendship. Perhaps it's because I don't have siblings that I've put so much energy into cultivating and maintaining friendships from all the various places, stages, and phases of my life. And I've accepted that my own choice to live in Alaska means having long distance friendships that I wish weren't.

That's why one of the hardest things for me about living in Juneau is transience and transition. I already have many friends that live very far away, so it's that much harder when good friends move from here. More than most places, I think, people come and go from Juneau. It's sometimes difficult to muster the energy to develop close ties and bonds with people when you know or suspect their indefinite departure is on the horizon. Also, it's hard to shake the feeling that these friends' departures are a silent indictment of your own decision to remain somewhere that, for a wide variety of reasons, can be a challenging place to live. It's hard not to take these decisions personally on some level: as both an abandonment and a rejection of your own choices.

But whenever I feel that unwelcome thought bubbling to the surface of my psyche, I try to dismiss it pretty quickly. First of all, people make decisions based on what they need to do in their own lives. It's narcissistic to think otherwise. Second, these friends are valuable and important, even if their choices take your lives on different paths for awhile, or even forever. I find it more rewarding to be vulnerable in friendship and risk transience and transition, than I do to put up walls in the hopes of avoiding the sorrow that inevitably accompanies vulnerability at some point. For it's in those moments of sorrow--when you cry for days because you miss someone--that their true value in your life is revealed.

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