EDWISE  - EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT
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Eye of the Optimist-friends and fate

It is a full moon weekend. Do you feel odd during a full moon? Do you feel anxious or off? I often do, and I did today.

Well, either the full moon or the peppermint tea chaser to a glass of beer combined with chat with uncertainty about the friends I was with resulted in a bad sleep. Leaving those people and going directly to bed was probably a bad idea. I probably needed time to unwind and a distraction. I guess I have doubts about the friendship since these two seem lukewarm about their association with me, each in his own way. I felt a little awkward and I noticed myself either trying to push the conversation along if my mind was not drifting. The one person explained how a break-up had been affecting him lately. The other person seems to have become indifferent to a lot of people. She seems self-contained in her carefully measured avoidance of people so that she is not open with them . She waffles about social invitations and commitments, preferring her freedom to do exactly how she feels as much as she can. I realize that and I accept it. I respect it, given her cultural background and the likelihood that she has been burned a few times by people's lack of loyalty. I guess I have been like that too. People used to call me "slippery." I would not give enough to let them learn enough to draw conclusions and I did not like being pegged. Well, I think I am nervous around people these days, after a period of strong self-confidence on the social front. Recent developments with my circle of colleagues and colleague-neighbours have made me doubt myself and them. I prefer to withdraw, socially. I do not seek company much. I make little effort to make social arrangements because of many disappointments, like no-shows and other affronts. The circle here has shifted, with loyalties transgressed and persons abandoned as the friendships have been shuffled around. I had been talking to someone who started out as new friend then seemed to be unfriendly (the one experiencing the break-up), but he has formed a tight friendship with Y, whom I was getting close to. Yeah, there was more than the full moon at play last night.

I find myself losing confidence on my life's path when I enter into a social dark cloud. I know the emotions of the situation can fog my judgement. I should not bother with much reflection during a full-moon phase, a phase when I am feeling skittish and a bit negative. I cannot help but wonder as to the magnitude and consequences of mistakes I may have made. I wonder if I had been on a better track in life, one that fed on my potential more and was better suited, if I would be among better friends. I must admit to lost opportunities that were abundant when I was still a youth. Take sports. I like to watch sports and I admire accomplished athletes. An international athletics competition was on TV, and I started to reminisce about my high school track days. I have often wondered whether it would have been wise to join the varsity track and field team. Today it struck me that I had no encouragement and no invitation to do that. My high school coach had never praised me, although my school mates had a little. We had the strongest team in the province with many strong runners, so I did not stand out even though I knew I was among the top best in my province, since I could out-run most of my peers. Today I thought that I could have been competitive since few of my peers went on to university. Then I realized that students from all over the country attended my university and some athletes did so especially because of the fine reputation of many of the sports teams there, including the track and field team, so I may not have done well. I may not have passed the try-outs. (I remember one team mate from high school who had joined the varsity team and I remember that he told me I was very fit. He did not suggest involvement in the team, though.) Still, it would have been a good experience to try, and certainly a good experience to compete at least for a year or two. Oh, well. I was neither wise or bold enough. I have to believe that I was not enthusiastic enough about it, and probably because of the so-so experience I'd had with sports in high school, to make the effort to join. There were opportunities related to employment that I let pass me by because I was not ready or enthusiastic enough. Nobody was around asking me what I wanted to do and I did not seek anyone out to give me advice. That is generally because I perceived most people around me as indifferent to me. I was focused on keeping my mind and emotions together, and getting through a degree program. It took a lot of energy and concentration to do that. I felt alone. I felt burdened by the solitude and sadness of social neglect and abandonment. Maybe what I really needed to do was to break away and take a plunge to try a decent job, even before graduating. I was not ready when people were knocking on my door. They soon stopped knocking and the opportunities dried up before I could get myself together enough to make a decision and make a move. I teeter on regretting those missed opportunities. 

I go from believing that I followed my heart and remained true to myself, spending some much of my life as an activist for social change instead of pursuing a career or marriage; perhaps I did what I was meant to do. Perhaps that is just the kind of element of the vast universe that I am and nothing could stop my course, even myself. I was there to try to make a difference and speak out about injustices and try to push forward social progress when so few would. I am known to some communities and circles for it, even if my career is not much or is hard to put a finger on.

As my relationships evolve and those fall in my "friends" category come and go, I need to update my communications and networks periodically. In the past couple of days, I have been flushing away old correspondence and documents from past activities and associations. I emptied my downloads folders on my computers. I updated the entire list of my friends and acquaintances on Facebook. I culled out stored correspondence with students and organizations in my electronic mail files. In my office, I cleared out years of papers. I even reviewed my will with its accompanying list of contacts and decided to make changes. The list of friends and associates to contact in the event of my demise was shaken up and sorted out. Some names got crossed off and others got added. Since I have come to know my nieces better recently, one of whom I had named as an executor, I changed the name of the executor and stand-bys today. I felt relieved after to all this housekeeping and rearranging.

In the modern world where myriads of people regularly pass each other by, and numerous relationships grow and fade all the time, I guess it is normal for those one calls friends to change all the time. I knew when I was a teenager that I would have to make myself strong enough to be fit to stand up for myself and carry me through my life, because one had to be self-reliant. Besides, how well does anyone truly know anyone? I've watched enough crime documentaries to be aware that even a person with the best reputation and apparently the most solid relationship can turn out to be holding deep dark secrets and thoughts, and may turn on the ones they say they love, parents or spouse. It is nice if a true friend comes along and listens and tries to know you and offer help, but circumstances can limit or prevent that. I imagine that few people have life-long friends, especially amid all the world travel, all the alternative styles and misfits, and career-hoppers like me. 

As I reviewed my lists of friends this sunny afternoon, I enjoyed the memory of the acquaintances. I  have known quite a wide variety in terms of occupation, age, perspective and education, and I have come to know them through a wide variety of activities. Some of my contentment and confidence returned as I leafed through the files. in the end, I eliminated a very few names from my lists, knowing that there is substance to the friendships while realizing that I know people to varying degrees and from varying angles. The experiences were real, all the same. I can truly call them friends. 

The sunlight of day exposes more truth than the cold light of the moon, which is a mere reflection of the sun, anyway. Moonlight can fool you or mislead you. It is a distraction.

Despite the adjustments to my immediate social life in the present, I have been enjoying a lot of friendship and it is rewarding. I should not let these little tussles and upsets get me down. Sure, I am older and wiser today, and can criticize my history more astutely, but there is nothing to be ashamed of or regretful for, on the whole. Overall, I have enjoyed a good measure of fortune despite all the misfortune. I have overcome a lot of problems. I have passed through phases of education in different ways and built myself up by it, even if there is nothing much immediately visible in terms of material stock. I have gone forward even if I have stalled at time. I have known a lot of great people who have been kind to me. I have tried to help others and have won appreciation in many forms. I have something to say and I am getting better at saying it. My accomplishments speak for me, too.



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