An administrative note on my Facebook page the other day suggested that there were a number of individuals from my email contact list who also subscribed to the FB site and I might be interested in inviting them to become "friends" on Facebook. On impulse, I thought "why not?" and promptly sent invitations to 11 of the names brought to my attention -- a cross-section of friends old and new and one distant relative.
Soon after issuing the invitations, I began to question my hasty reaction. "If they wanted to be Facebook friends with me they would have asked long before now," I thought. Most of the names on the list belonged to longtime acquaintances who I already considered as "friends" anyway and certainly a Facebook friend request would do nothing to enhance connections, some dating back 60-65 years. Wrights Lane, too, is always here and special invitations to visit are unnecessary.
With a degree of embarrassment I was reminded of something I read not long ago suggesting that holding on to the past is like trying to breathe life into a play which is closed. It is akin to struggling to raise the curtain in a dark theatre, on a dusty stage, by ourselves...The other players have left the building. The stage is empty, but we persist in going over everyone’s lines, long since recited, playing all the parts – alone. "It is being stuck. It is entrapment in a time warp. The costumes no longer fit. The buttons have popped," the writer emphasized.
Sentimental people like me, who are subject to bouts of emptiness, sadness and curiosity about the past, struggle to remember that old friends and acquaintances do change, they move on, they establish new lives. What once was, is no longer. At the same time, I believe that our past shapes who we are and how we behave and it is nice to look back and to relive certain experiences. I also feel that it is good to look to the past as a reference of what has worked for us and what has not.
You can imagine my joy and relief today when I received a positive response from seven of the Facebook invitations that I had issued just 24 hours earlier (still to hear from four others). My faith restored, my heart touched.
I am realistic enough to know that I have little else to offer my new Facebook friends, other than the continued fondness and friendship of times, events and places past. And I think that is alright. We all change and move on. Life evolves even for our newest friends over a shorter period of time. We acknowledge the inevitable widening of distances.
What is so heart-warming and comforting for me, however, is the discovery that most of our lives follow a universal path. We are similar in the way we love and are loved. We all experience and overcome difficulty at one time or another, we mourn the loss of loved ones and we celebrate successes and achievement. We bring children into the world. We are rewarded with grandchildren.
Yes, we all move on in life but we have the past and our memories to keep us together, if that is what we want...and I thank God for that. If it takes something like Facebook to facilitate a need in us to symbolically reconnect, then so be it.
The world is our stage and we continue to be players on it, make no mistake about it. The script is ours to write in concert -- together as friends -- celebrating both our pasts and the promise of our futures. If we play our parts in ernest, a rousing chorus of "bravo" awaits all of us when the stage lights finally do fade.