I made a point of catching up with some long standing friends.
In the morning the children and I ambled around a community farm cooing over lambs and kids. We picnicked on sticks of carrot and those ice lollies that are imbued with a neon hue only acquired by roll call of E numbers. My good deed today was to buy all the children a toxic ice pop.
On our morning jolly we were joined by friends, my friends and the childrens’ friends. As we caught up, the children ran up hills, stroked goats and ran away screaming from the giant pigs. I indulged in conversations with my friend. Some things we talked about were light hearted, carefree and elicited peels of laughter. Some things we talked about were the big things, the grit of life, the life altering news that creeps up on us through our blindspot, hits us square in the face and almost knocks us to our knees. When the big stuff happens in life it isn’t words that you need its hugs, and correctly placed periods of laughter.
In the evening I was escorted to a rural pub and sat with friends. We caught up in much the same way as I caught up with the friend earlier in the day except this time I was simultaneously working my way through a medley of drinks with one hand and a bowl of chips with the other.
I can’t overestimate how important my friendships are to me. I don’t benefit from only having contact with friends through a screen. Texts are great. They are quick, easy and cheap, exactly the opposite of the qualities of friendship. Social media is has its place but if it is the only way we engage with others we run the risk of airbrushing the cracks out of life. A Tweet is pondered and considered so that the 140 characters present us at our wittiest erudite best. Facebook status updates are made when our life looks good. We upload photographs of us jumping off sea cliffs, blossom against blue skies, smiles. But life isn’t made up entirely of moments like that.
If I substitute the physical presence of my friends for the flat airbrushed profile of them then I begin unfavourably comparing my life. My expectations become skewed and I feel like I am falling short, or worse that my relationships with others are falling short.
When you sit down with friends you see life as it really is, not through a carefully edited filter. When you sit down with friends the conversations are more often initiated on the basis of “I really f**ked up the other day…”, “Help, I can’t seem to get this parenting thing right..”, “Do you remember when…”, “The other day I found out that…”.
Today there were a myriad of hiccups and so many things that I didn’t get right. My son threw his first truly committed tantrum, for two hours he screamed at a pitch that makes ears bleed. The first hour of the tantrum was in public. I was unable to work out what was frustrating him. I couldn’t fix it for him so I just had to help him ride it out. Food was requested, prepared and then rejected. Too much sugar was consumed. There were times when patience was hard to come by. By six o’clock I was desperate to run away to my bed and hide under the covers. By seven I was walking to meet my friends. By 9 o’clock I realised that pretty much everyone had had days like mine this week. By 12 o’clock I was fixed.
Granted, if your friend is living on the other side of the world, social media is a pretty extraordinary tool but their profile is no substitute for their presence.