Do we have to believe everything our friends believe? Do we? Why? Isn’t it our differences that enrich our lives? It seems that no matter what we are talking about lately, it almost always turns to the current climate of divisiveness. People take sides, get offended, and usually (it seems to me) everyone is ticked off at the other side. Being on opposing sides is nothing new, but it wasn’t that long ago that this country was apathetic. Now we all have opinions and we want you to have our opinions. Why? Why is it so important that we agree on everything? Just because you are offended, doesn’t mean it is offensive.
I have a large group of friends. My brother calls them my army – ha! Two of my friends are sisters. One of them is the other pea in my pod. She is who I call when I want my own opinion given to me. We agree on practically everything. Her opinions make me feel supported and right. The other sister is more like a sister to me than a friend. I call her when I want an opposing, but well thought out opinion, from a completely different place with completely different experiences – you get my drift. Her opinions make me think and I learn from them.
I may not have an army, but I am definitely a friend collector. Every single one of them has enriched my life in numerous ways. I have atheist friends, good Christian friends, Mormon friends, Catholic friends, a Buddhist monk, and crazy religious friends. I have friends who shop at thrift stores and friends who never leave Nordstroms. I don’t want to lose any friends, ever. Do I need to lose the ones whose opinions are opposite mine?
Years ago, after my mom’s best friend got the first divorce, she started dating a windbag. A rich, good looking, fun, smart, arrogant, loud mouthed blow hard. We were celebrating one of our holidays there around the time of the OJ Simpson ordeal. He was going off on some sort of rant that closely resembled racism. I looked over at her and inquired, “how do you deal with that?”
She replied, “What do I care what he thinks?” What? What did she just say? This was news to me. Of course you care what someone thinks. I still think about that statement. She was right. Who cares what someone thinks or says? Beautiful, wonderful people have been known to say horrific things. Even the lowest of the low says something beautiful now and then. Actions speak louder than words. Maybe he was walking the racism line (that generation lived during the civil rights movement) – but, I never saw him treat anyone with anything but respect and dignity.
Then, years later, I read Eckhart Tolle – thanks, Oprah. Because it seemed so esoteric and mind blowing, it took forever for me to wrap my head around what he was saying.. He taught me that we are not our thoughts. What? We think those thoughts, therefore they must be ours and therefore an extension of us. Right? Having murderous thoughts doesn’t make me a murderer or even violent. How often does something pop into your head and you think, “I wonder where that came from? I don’t think that way.” It happens to me frequently. Of course, writer’s curse.
I’ve noticed as I have aged, that there are so many things that divide us from our friends and other people we love. It starts when you begin to make friends, you lose friends occasionally based on who your other friends are. Then boyfriends. Then kids. And, then, old age. Fuck me.
I know not everyone is interested in such an eclectic group of friends. And, sometimes I have to separate friends and referee fights on FB. Okay – it’s not that bad. It was just one fight. But, I do keep some of them separate – for me, not for them. I don’t want to hear anyone go at it. I like peace. I just don’t always want to be the one to make it. I have learned that not everyone is like me. Not all of my friends are going to like each other. All of my friends are going to say or do things that I don’t appreciate. So the fuck what? The opposite sister up there – about once a week she says something and I think – “who the eff are you and where did you get that ridiculous opinion again?” I just move forward. I am not going to be changing anyone’s opinion anytime soon. And, nobody is going to be changing mine. We need such diversity.
I find that their diversity enriches me. It broadens my views. And, I get that too – not everyone wants or thinks broader views are a goal. Life is short. Experiences are many. Life changing experiences are few. Life changing people can happen every day. For that, I am thankful.