After setting two loaves of bread to rise on the stove, I began washing the dishes used to make the bread. As I washed them I began thinking about friendship. I have learned a lot about friendship in recent years, namely that friendship isn't something that's easy. In fact friendship takes a lot of effort, particularly as I enter this phase of life many people term "adulthood." It seems everyone I know is getting busier and busier, and life is becoming less spontaneous. So the people who end up being friends with me now aren't necessarily the ones who I was friends with before. The friends I have now are people who consciously set aside time to keep in touch, since we all live so far away from each other. But even for those people who live close, the ones I've developed relationships with have had to set aside time to get to know me.
I've learned that many people at this stage in their life end up working more than not working. I am working full time now for the first time regularly in my life. And I'm glad to be employed and to reap some of the security that comes with a regular paycheck, something I haven't had for about four years. But as the end of each week approaches I can't help hoping that it is approaching. And as each weekend ends I can't help hoping it won't. I feel that as we grow older people are more and more sluiced into this kind of work-life where there may not be much balance. And when your work is something you love, and your co-workers are dear friends, it makes it pretty good. But I can't help thinking about what life would be like with these same people in this same place if there was less work or more space between the working.
I have come to see working very differently lately, and I have to say that I enjoy working. I have learned how to work, and that is important. I have learned indeed that people who work a lot can live full lives, and that work gives a sense of purpose. But the pulling away from people who are not co-workers due to time and energy still troubles me.
I am working hard here in Maine on many things. And somehow I am saving a part of myself for introspection, the noticing of beauty, and also for others. As I grow older and more busy, I don't want the relationships I treasure to fall by the wayside, and I don't want to close myself off from new relationships. It's a delicate balance that I don't fully understand yet, and I don't think I will be able to sustain this balance if I were to work 40 hours a week for a long period of time.
I've come to understand friendship as a type of work—work on yourself, and the effort it takes to think about other people. It also can be work to think that what you have to offer others is wanted. I feel like there is a lot around these days that tells us we don't matter or aren't good enough. And even if we don't believe that it's a constant fight to tell ourselves the opposite, that we do matter and that people do care.
Friendship is like homemade bread, I guess. You have to put some thought and effort into baking bread, and cleaning up the flour, bowls, and pans. But in the end you have something wonderful you can share, and that can't be bought.