The past week or two has been filled with a lot of flashbacks for me. The end of July and beginning of August is a busy time of the year for birthdays in my family. I always looked forward to celebrating birthdays with my family, because, no matter how busy we all were, those were guaranteed dates that we would all get together and catch up and have fun.
With all of those great birthday flashbacks running through my mind, I also started having flashbacks to other really great memories created with friends growing up. Growing up in North Dakota, you basically have two options: you learn to love the cold weather and snow, or you suffer for over half of the year. Since I use a wheelchair everywhere I go, learning to love the cold and snow was never an option for me. Wheelchairs and several feet of snow on the ground don’t mix well. haha I do have fun memories from the winters when I was young, but the older I got, the more I grew to hate the cold. Looking back at my favorite childhood memories, nearly all of them are summertime memories. Summer always has been and always will be my favorite season. I love sunshine, and I love the heat… even though it can get a bit out of hand at times here in Florida. haha
This week, there is a fireworks competition going on at the fairgrounds back in my hometown. Every night, there are several fireworks displays as part of the competition. This is something that is held every year in different locations across the U.S., but the memories of the years this competition was held in my hometown while growing up ended up being some of my favorite memories. I remember getting a big group of friends together every night and sitting in the open field behind our old elementary school to watch the fireworks. Those memories will stick with me forever.
In some ways, it feels like just yesterday. Yet, in some ways, it feels like forever ago. Life changes. People change. The world changes. This was back in a time when a group of kids could wander off on their own and have fun without parents watching everything they did, or having any other kind of supervision. This was back before everyone had a cell phone or some other form of technological device superglued to their hand. We could just go off and do whatever we wanted to do, and our parents knew we would be home when we were supposed to be home.
As is usually the case with me, the thing that stands out the most about those memories is the people. These are memories that were created with friends from my neighborhood. We had known each other, in some cases, since birth. I have forgotten more memories I had with those people than I will ever create with most people I’ve met since then. The sad thing, looking back at those memories now, is realizing that I only keep in touch with two of those people now. I don’t recall a time in my life where I’ve ever ended a friendship with someone because of a fight. Sometimes people just grow apart over time. It’s unfortunate, but it happens.
I often wonder what life would be like if I could go back in time to when those memories were created and relive them. I wonder if those memories were really as great as I remember. I also wonder how my younger self and my friends’ younger selves would react if they knew the things I/we know now about how life would turn out, and how most of us would rarely, if ever, keep in touch just a few short years down the road.
Anyone who knows me well, or anyone who has read my previous posts, knows that I am big believer that everything happens for a reason. In a lot of cases, I still don’t understand how a lot of my friends and I drifted apart. Some of the people I lost touch with became increasingly negative as we grew older and were not much fun to be around anymore. Others, I have no clue. It seems like none of us changed much, yet we gradually started spending less and less time together, for no real reason. I would love to get together with those people and catch up one of these days. I don’t know if it will ever happen, but I would love to regain those friendships. But, maybe things worked out for the best for all of us. I don’t know. As for the others, sometimes things are better just left in the past. We shared some really great memories years ago, and that is how it should remain.
I have been reminded several times in my life that life really is short. You have to spend as much time as possible being happy. You have to spend time in places that make you happy. You have to do things that make you happy. And you have to spend your time and effort on the people that make you happy. When you have wonderful memories with an old friend who now spends all day every day talking about how much life sucks and how much they hate everything, that is not the kind of person that anybody wants to be around. They are toxic friends, and will drag everyone around them down. I have had a few of those friends, and I really did try to help them to look at life in a more positive way, but you can’t help somebody who doesn’t want to be helped. It’s hard to love people who don’t love themselves. You have to let those people go and move on with your life, as sad as it may be at the time. Learning to love yourself is something I will discuss in a future post. (Spoiler alert: It is important! You can’t be afraid to love yourself! It’s not selfish, it’s necessary!!)
As we get older, things seem to start to fall into place. The things that happened when you were younger start to make more sense. You realize why they happened the way they did. As I started to quietly and politely phase certain people out of my life, I started to realize how much more time and effort I was able to focus on the right people. People who enhance my life. I made new friends who have brought a great deal of happiness and positivity to my life. These people are out there in the world. I hope you’ve all been fortunate enough to meet some of these people, but there are more out there who will eventually come into your life when the time is right. But, in my experience, you have to let go of the things and the people who are dragging you down first. Let go of the negativity in your life, focus on the things that make you happy, and keep moving forward!!