A table is not just a table...

Today my husband and I took our "old" dining table over to our daughter's house. This table was given to me almost 20 years ago and has always been one of my favorites. It has large claw feet and is made of very solid oak. As we were taking it out to our van, I commented that things were just not made to last anymore like this table had been. This table was built at a time when it was intended to be handed down from one family member to the next. It is now on it's third generation.

When I think about it, not much is really made like this table anymore. As the years have gone by, we have moved more and more into the disposable. Some of this is out of necessity, but others are not. Furniture, household items, electrical items are all made to last a relatively short time. A computer can be obsolete in as few as five years. Technology is changing and so are the items that are available to us.

Sadly, many relationships aren't built to last either. In the times of old, where snail mail was the best method of communication, friendships were hard work. Penning a letter took time and the time waiting for a response even longer. Now, you can chat, text, and email. Getting a response from someone immediately or, often at longest, within a day. There are less and less people who can tell you their friends from years past, but rather have friendships culled from a relatively near past. Facebook has changed this for many, ironically, becoming a place to reconnect with others. Now, I have heard that some people are sought out by people from their high school years that they didn't even know and they felt obligated to "friend," but I have had requests in the past that I never acknowledged if I didn't want to commit to knoe about the intricacies of their life.

Facebook is a funny thing. You have the ability to reconnect and sometimes it is at such a superficial level that it feels a bit like the online dating of friendship, while other times you build such deep relationships that it may be almost unbelievable that you haven't met this person in person or don't see them regularly. When I was in high school, I had a friend that I played basketball with and, during my junior year, skipped class with. We had a teacher who was so absent minded that as long as you had his stapler "hall pass" you were good. Funny thing, I had that hall pass until about 15 years ago when one of my own students broke it! Anyway, I have gone off on a tangent here..my friend and I would skip class right after lunch. She had a car and we would go eat fast food and then go play Pac-Man (or Mrs. Pac-Man), driving into school in enough time to get to class. I was not a regular skipper (trust me..paranoid!), but this was one thing we did occasionally to have some fun during the school hours! This friend lives not far from me. We have reconnected over Facebook and she recently battled breast cancer. I look at myself and wonder if the electronic distance stopped me from being more accountable to her, more supportive. Was this a friendship built for time? I think so, but the electronic distance can give the illusion that you are "there" for someone, even though you aren't actually there.

How is it that we can be close and far at the same time? There are families that have children with the same disease as my son and I count on these people for support and information. The network we have built on Facebook is invaluable. It is the closest that most of us have come to actually meeting each other. These friendships are built for a purpose and when we meet in person, it is an amazing experience. We share a common life, have common issues, even though if not for these commonalities, some would never give each other a glance.

It's interesting that within a group of high school people that have reconnected over the years, many of these people weren't "friends" during actual high school, but rather are drawn together now by a common bond, a common past, and a common future. Most are married, with children, in careers. We can relate to each other because of the sheer fact that we grew up. The table that was built during high school had some common threads, enough to bind a group together now.

Does the quality of the relationship that was built first impact the longevity of the relationship, or can a relationship that is built with invisible thread at the beginning grow into something of substance? I think these are questions that we can really examine in our life. How do we determine what has staying power and what can be tossed aside? Is it irresponsible to put aside some relationships in favor of others? When looking at your life, determining who you want to invest in is a great responsibility. This is our one life and the energy we have is all we get. How do you determine how to spend that energy? What connections do you build, which ones do you keep? How do you make sure that you have the support you need with the people you have? Where, if at all, do you draw the line?

Having quality relationships in your life is essential. I think of my grandparents who were married for more than 70 years. That was a table that was built for time. Over the years, care went into that table, nurturing. If we want the quality, we have to be willing to give time and energy to get it. What kind of life do you want? A deep and meaningful one or one that will be obsolete in five years? You have the currency...choose where to spend it.


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