Like many of us, I’ve been spending somewhat significant amounts of time unlocking the keys to my past. I’ve reconnected with many old friends from my childhood, high school, college, summer camp and then some. I’m talking, of course, about the magic that is Facebook.
It’s been great fun catching up with people from the past. But, what I’ve come to realize in a number of conversations with old friends is just how stupid some of the fights we all had were. I had a Facebook IM chat yesterday with one friend who was asking about another. It seems that our mutual friend wasn’t responding to her requests to become friends (or even to messages). She said that they were good friends at one point, but had a falling. Then, they just stopped talking. Now, she said, she can’t even remember what it was all about.
We’ve all had friendships end like this. We all have those people in our lives who were SO important, but for one reason or another…the friendships pass away. Sometimes it’s over a fight; a fight that seems so huge, so incredible at the time, but in retrospect, with the wisdom of years and perspective…was just stupid. A fight that was SO stupid…we can’t even remember what it was about.
There’s a time when we’re really little – like K-Man’s age – where all fights end with forgiveness. Kids wail on each other, hit each other over the head with baseball bats and then can’t wait to play together again. As we get older, though, we learn about cliques and grudges and have silly fights over (usually) inconsequential things. (This, of course, isn’t to say that there are some real doosies that, unfortunately, perhaps rightly result in permanently lost friendships.)
I know that I’ll teach K-Man as much as I possibly can about forgiveness and understanding. I know that I’ll try to explain that some fights aren’t worth sacrificing friendships over. And, I’ll try to explain the sanctity that is friendship. But, I know that the time will come when he has a best friend with whom he gets in a fight. And, we’ll talk about the fight. Why it happened. Who is really at fault. Is it possible that there’s just some kind of horrible misunderstanding.
The thing about time is that it tends to heal, or at least it usually does. Time allows us to find more perspective. As we get older, we encounter bigger problems and have bigger fights, which often make the earlier ones seem even more insignificant. Then, we continue to get older and those fights…well, you get the idea. It’s an ongoing process and with each advancement in years we find ourselves wondering what could have been so bad?
As social networking continues to grow (total traffic to social networking sites has actually overtaken porn, which is quite an accomplishment), it may very well become impossible to lose touch with people. But, at the same time, the digital world is so much less personal. So much less intimate. So, perhaps, the rifts will grow ever stronger and deeper. We all know, after all, how tone and intention gets lost in email. How many “fights” have started with a misguided, or misunderstood email?
I wonder, though, if it’s really possible to teach this – especially the idea of perspective – to a kid. Is it really possible to make a kid understand, “if I only knew then what I know now?” I’m sure there were plenty of adults who tried to teach me one thing or another, but I didn’t listen. I’m sure I just knew it all, or at least thought I did.
Like never giving up hope on the dream, or forgoing judgment, I really hope I can teach K-Man about tolerance and perspective. I really hope he can avoid finding old friends 20-years later only to wonder why the heck it’s been 20 years. And, just was that fight about anyway? (And, as much for him, as me…I hope I remember this and don’t have to look back when I’m 50 only to think…Damn, if I only knew this when I was 40…Live and learn.)