On the sixth day…

Today I’ve written, a post for the #God52 blog, which if you’re not already familiar with – and its eponymous weekly challenges – you should be. The challenge for this week was to spend an hour on your own doing nothing. I tell my story of how I go a bit further…

Walking through the streets of Bern in Switzerland on a cold March evening I realised I was sad. I had visited the famed bears, strolled around the beautiful city and had a coffee in front of the Bundestag while watching gentlemen ageing gracefully play chess in the square. But everything was not fine, I was missing other people.

Rewind six days and I arrived in Salzburg, Austria, ready to embark on an eleven day tour of five cities all alone. This was five years ago, and each year since I have done something similar. I have driven around Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia, I have stayed in a converted barn in Portugal and a former monastery in Tuscany. And I have done all these things on my own.

It was not until the sixth day that I felt lonely. I am an introvert who lives in a busy world and going away alone has become an important, nigh on therapeutic, activity. Spending an hour alone hardly seems worth bothering with…

Read the rest of the post here

Please talk among yourselves…

Because I’m leaving on a jet plane.

20110823-045955.jpg
I’m off on holiday, and I need it. A week in the sun, with little else to do but read and relax, and maybe play a few overly competitive family board games.

I’ve got a couple of posts lined up on handling conflict, especially between friends. However, bus diversions, flying haribo and Jungle Speed conspired last night to prevent me finishing them up and scheduling them for while I’m away. Instead I’m jotting a few thoughts as I hurtle towards Gatwick amid the awakening dawn.

Friendships are tough. I touched on a similar theme in relation to our expectations of romantic relationships, but friendships will not always be easy going. And if they are you’re probably not giving enough to them. I struggle with that, I want things to fall into place without disagreement or discord. But the melee of emotions and personalities will always bring differences to the surface.

So the question to ponder while I’m away, and that’s a hint to offer your thoughts in the comments below, is where do we go from there?

Do we flee from conflict, either to perpetually form new friendships or retreat into ourselves offering less of ourselves to each nascent friendship that emerges?

Do we fight for what is right, and can we ever know where subjective differences and objective rights and wrongs start and end? To put that another way, are we standing up for personal preference or something of value which is shared?

I like things nice and ordered, I prefer to calculate cost and benefit, but should such equations ever be applied to friendships? Isn’t that a bit too clinical, lacking in compassion? But I also get the idea that some people are good for you and others less so.

So where does fighting for friendship and forbearing with others give way staying in a situation that is unhealthy? I’m taking McCould and Townsend’s book ‘Safe People’ with me and it’s all about this, so I’m sure I’ll have some thoughts to share on my return but for now, I’ll just say it’s a tough one.

For someone inclined not to invest in friendships enough I shudder at the thought of pulling away because I know it would just exacerbate my introversion. I got cross with some friends on Sunday, maybe I had a point, I still think I do, but I obscured any valid comment with my aggression and undue personal hostility. The challenge for me is to continue to give more to friendships despite the challenges, but I want to know when it is also necessary to withdraw, maybe for the good of multiple people.

So there you go, the thoughts that hit the keyboard on a train at 4.30am. I cannot say enough how much your comments are a vital part of this blog, so talk among yourselves for the next week…

Postscript: I accidentally picked up the wrong bottle when going for some apple juice, and I discovered the wonder that is Copella apple and mint juice.