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A Reason, a Season, a Lifetime

Yes, another one about Matthew Quick’s book, Every Exquisite Thing.  You don’t have to read the book to follow these posts and have an opinion because I’m using the book as a springboard to other mental spaces.  If you want to read the other posts I’ve written about this book, you can find them here, here, here, here, and here.

Do you ever think about the longevity of a friendship in its starting point?  Last week, my friend came over for dinner.  I met her on the first day of college in my first class.  I knew immediately that we were going to be friends, but moreover, I suspected even in those first days that we were going to be lifelong friends.

Before you applaud my ability to predict friendship longevity, I also had that feeling with another woman and we’re not friends at all.

I guess the point is that I usually go into starting new friendships with the hope that it will continue indefinitely.  And then a quote on page 169 of the book gave me pause.  Nanette (the main character) is in a session with her therapist, June.

June brings up the expression “a reason, a season, or a lifetime” in their last therapy session before Christmas, and Nanette says, “Booker quotes that in The Bubblegum Reaper. ‘People enter our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.’”

“I know, but he didn’t coin the phrase. It’s a cliché,” June says. “And sayings become clichés mostly because they are true. People tend to repeat what they feel is real—authentic.”

First of all, I’ve never heard that phrase before: a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  Second of all, it made me wonder if we’re all seeking lifetime friendships but being okay (mostly) when they fall short.  Does anyone aim for a reason or a season friendship?  I mean, yes, we all understand that we sometimes meet someone for a reason (infertility) or a season (college), but is anyone aiming to just keep reason or season friendships contained in their moment and then move away?

I ask because what if I’m only seeking lifetime friendships but someone else is only seeking seasonal friendships?  How do we mesh?  Who bends to the other person’s timeline?

Or do we not know the outcome of friendship until we know the outcome of friendship?  Are all feelings of lifelongness just feelings until they’re truths?  Or does feeling it make lifelong friendships happen because we strive to keep the friendships we suspect have longevity?

Friendship.  Discuss.


1 a { 06.07.17 at 8:57 am }

I don’t think anyone goes into a friendship with that thought – it’s just what they use to explain why they no longer talk with so-and-so every day instead of acknowledging that they or so-and-so were too busy or too disinterested to maintain a friendship.

My sister was just talking about this last night. She doesn’t want to go to her friend’s kid’s graduation party. They’ve known each other since we all lived on the same street, but became friends and roommates in college. My sister does all the work for the friendship – she attends all the events, makes the calls, etc. But her friend has had many challenges, so my sister wants to be there. Personally, I follow the law of diminishing returns – eventually, there comes a point at which you’re putting more in than you’re ever going to get out, so it’s time to stop.

Since I never call, and occasionally text, my friends do most of the reaching out to me. But I do all of the traveling to see them, so I sort of feel like it evens out.

I do think the advent of social media has made long-term friendships more possible, although they’re probably better termed long-term acquaintanceships. It’s easier to reconnect with people, follow their lives, and jump in here and there where it’s convenient.

2 Raven { 06.07.17 at 9:37 am }

I don’t ever think of friendship in terms of length. I have been blessed to have many different friends from all walks of life come into my life for varying lengths of time. Some of my deepest friendships came from new friendships, versus old ones, so I don’t value the length of time we’re friends but more the connection…and I have been blessed to have more than a few deep friendships. Part of this is because I have traveled and relocated a lot – making long term, grow-old-together friendships harder to have…but I do keep in touch with them and when we do get to reconnect, it’s as wonderful as a warm hug on a cold day.

3 Karen { 06.07.17 at 9:49 am }

That’s definitely not my aim when I begin a friendship for sure. I, too, go into friendships in the hopes that it will continue indefinitely.

That said, the reason, season, lifetime cliche helps me whenever I have the question as to whether or not I should let go of a friendship… or even spend the energy necessary to keep a friendship moving along. I have very few friends I consider as lifetime, so those are the relationships I invest my time and energy into.

This is actually really relevant – my best friend and I started to lose touch when she left work to be a stay at home mom after she had her second child. With a toddler at home, it was hard to chat with her during the day, and evenings were rough on me because I was getting up so early to work out. I really thought she was going to slip away last summer, and I was grieving over it. It was awful. But last fall, we both decided – separately – that we have a lifetime friendship, and so it’s worth really working on. So we’re getting there – lunch whenever her son is at preschool, and we’re planning some day trips this summer with our big kids.

I think you have to have both parties decided that you are lifetime friends to make friendships work, especially when it gets so hectic with kid schedules and husbands and work and whatnot. That’s been my experience, anyway.

4 torthuil { 06.07.17 at 10:36 am }

I like “a reason, a season, a lifetime.” There are people I really needed at a certain point, or who really needed me. And then we just didn’t need each other that way anymore. I don’t think that’s a bad thing and remembering that all relationships are different allows you to cherish the memories and value the experience without trying to force people to be something they no longer are. Where there might be conflict is if one friend has moved on and the other hasn’t. I’ve been in that situation.

5 Sharon { 06.07.17 at 1:42 pm }

I have heard that saying about friendships being for “a reason, a season or a lifetime” many times. I think it’s true, although it can sometimes be hard to accept when a friend you’d hoped was for a lifetime turns out to only be a friend for a reason or a season.

I tend to NOT be able to judge how long friendships will endure. I’ve had friendships that I thought would always be a part of my life that sputtered out sooner than expected and friendships that I thought were situational that have lasted years.

6 Ana { 06.07.17 at 2:20 pm }

I’ve heard that saying many times, and I think its true. But its hard to know in advance who will fall into which category. I can’t imagine many people cultivate deep friendships for “a season”? Sure there are people who I am friendly with due to circumstances (we work together, our kids are in pre-school together) that I’m not sure I care enough to keep in touch with when the circumstances change. But those are NOT close friendships.

7 Counting Pink Lines { 06.07.17 at 3:43 pm }

I definitely start friendships hoping it’ll be for a lifetime but after having been burned a few times, I’m more wary these days. What I’ve found interesting is how motherhood makes some of those potentially ‘lifetime’ friendships suddenly a ‘season’ one.

8 loribeth { 06.14.17 at 3:16 pm }

I think I always go into a new friendship hoping that it will be a lasting one — but I’ve learned that is rarely the case. Although (as a. pointed out, above) it far easier to stay in touch with old friends these days with email, Facebook & cheap long distance.

9 Lori Lavender Luz { 06.24.17 at 7:32 pm }

I think finding a lifetime friend is something really special and relatively rare. I have lots and lots of seasonal and reasonal friends that come from bonds around external things (sons in basketball, work, etc).

It’s when bonds happen from within that the lifetime thing may happen. And the passage of time.

I am a lucky woman, for sure, to have the lifetime friends I have. (hint, hint).

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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