I don't spring clean out my friendship closet in the old way anymore. Okay, I did commit one recent, good, old-fashioned firing. But only one and I tried very hard to avoid it. I think it's unhealthy to decide categorically against too many people too often. It says not-great things about my initial instincts. But I have distanced myself and I find myself distancing almost before I get close to some people. If asked why, I would suggest my limited energy and the fact that this past year, two very close friends lost someone that they loved very much. In both cases, their lost-persons were people I liked a whole bunch too, and people that I liked my people having near them. In one case, the death was not unfair in terms of age and the "she had a full-life" blah-blah and in the other, it was horribly unfair, the woman young, so many new starts in her life. In both cases, strong, amazing women who were not victims and did not revel in opportunities to be victims. But it's hard to use the old "people have real problems and your antics seem selfish, inauthentic and make for a difficult empathy project" bit because it too, seems like a borrowed tragedy and illustrative in the same way as our not eating our collective brussel sprouts becomes paired with those "starving children in China." It feels like something that should feel sad instead of generating a clean, relatable parallel.
But the times bit on happiness feels more like what I am feeling lately. There's this world and we get both too little and too much of it but like that old joke about the restaurant that serves "horrible food and the portions are too small" it's a good, bad banquet and it's gone too soon or rather, we are. And that too, is not new thinking but I like that a knife in the throat is an image that I won't forget and that to think of it is to remember that I like dignity and people taking up their fair share of space and giving something back to those around them. I like people who can show up sometimes instead of have so many reasons why they are too broken, too lost, too spacey, too pained to bother. Then it's all the language and that, these days, is my priority. The phone will suffer and the phonecalls will be reduced by a lot so that the words can have some time. But they are good for it. They are the givers and lovers of happiness. And if you have not yet read Carl Dennis' poem To Happiness (from his latest book) you really should.