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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

In The Vault, To The Grave

The friendship articles are making the rounds on Facebook and I realized that it’s really difficult to narrow down all the qualifications of a best friend into one person. It’s not healthy to put all your eggs into one basket, and ‘best’ is really relative. A spouse can be a best friend for reasons different than those of your college best friend.

 Previously, a colleague and I were discussing the future with a group of grade 12 students, and the question he posed was, “Ms. Benoit, how many good friends would you say you have?” and I stopped to think and count. Maybe it looked like I didn’t have any friends, but in reality, I was trying to define what ‘good’ meant in terms of friendship. I sputtered, “5, 6, maybe?” as a conservative number, which then no doubt looked like I was trying to lie about having friends. My colleague then said, “The number, for most people as adults, is about 3. After high school and college, the average number of really good friends that a person has is 3.”

I immediately thought, “Well, then, I don’t know what friendship is. I am a friendship sl*t. I just give it up to all kinds of people.”

 That information has kind of haunted me, and I believe it was either June 2012 or 2013 when the conversation occurred. I believe I am pretty conservative with my time and space, and even sharing myself. I am a very lucky person when it comes to developing relationships. It comes easily and naturally. That being said, I rarely make commitments, and I don’t make promises unless I am 100% sure in my heart that I intend to keep them. Once given, I work hard to keep those promises. Commitment is difficult. It takes time, energy and love.

I read these ‘100 Things Only Your Best Friend Would Know’ type of articles and I enjoy them. Some of them are so true, and I laugh my arse off because my friends and I have been there. We have made great memories. But I feel guilty when I go to share with only one person, or 3, or 5.

Because, you see, I share my life with more than 1, 3, or 5 wonderful people. If I am in trouble, I could call them and ask for help and they could do the same. I am friends with many people, male and female. I am not in primary or elementary school where it is common to see children playing in small cliques so we have to encourage sharing and discourage bullying. I have friends in varying degrees of closeness, much like the planets revolve around the sun.

And yes, I just compared myself to the centre of the solar system, the sun. But I am egocentric and narcissistic, and this is my life so yeah, I am the centre of my solar system, just as you are the centre of yours. Sometimes the friend closest to you physically may not be the one you call when you want to talk about your kids; you may want to talk to the person 800km away for that. The person 3 blocks away might be the one you want to Skype with on Sunday morning for coffee but the person on the other side of the city might be the person you attend doggie obedience class with on Tuesday evenings.

Whatever your reasons, different people understand you better in various areas in your life. None of them are any less than the other. I say I have been very lucky because for me, luck is timing and opportunity. At certain times in my life, I have had the opportunity to develop bonds with certain people who have left imprints on my heart and soul. They have taught me lessons that I had not encountered previously, but have hopefully since imparted to others. I have learned and practiced patience, humility, kindness and gratitude, among other qualities, through these people. I have loved and been loved.

It seems to me that people often elevate the emotion and gift of ‘love’ to some lofty, almost unattainable, tangible, materialistic ‘thing’ so that it becomes only a dream or fantasy. For me, love is much simpler, much more basic, much more down-to-earth than that. Love just is. It is a state of being; it is a state of acceptance; it is a state of knowing who you are, what you come from and what you have. It is finding happiness and being happy.

So, when I think of my ‘bffs’ and who I love, so many people come to mind for so many different reasons. We haven’t seen each other face to face in ten years, but that’s irrelevant. Some, I see once or twice a year and it’s like we have never parted. We pick up where we paused, we tell each other details that we don’t share everywhere. There are some who I know more about than their own spouses do, and it will stay that way. In the vault, to the grave. Forever. And, I know if we are on vacation and we have to go to prison in Thailand or Mexico (hello Brokedown Palace or Prison Break!), I don’t want to go alone - I want her there - no leaving each other behind. When I need a second opinion on that weird mole or that hot guy, when I need advice or just want to chat, when I just need someone there – I want my friend... friends!

I am so damn lucky to have more than one friend who wants to share their life with me. Notes, emails, a hug, sometimes just a glance in the hall or having breakfast together, coffee, the road trips, the gossiping, even the arguments. Wherever you are in the world right now, I miss you, I love you, and I cherish our time, whether I have known you for 8 months or 11 years.

“Oh my God, stop talking, I’m going to pee in my pants! My face hurts from laughing.”
“Stop apologizing, it’s not the first time I heard you cry.”
“I hate your face. Stop being weird. Ok, be weird again.”
“I can’t hang out with you if you don’t want to eat. Let’s get some food right now.”
^ all typical conversations with me & various friends

For me, friendship can’t be numbered in 100 ways but it can be bursting with memories. Maybe people will feel that I don’t know what real friendship is. I think I do. If we are friends, you know. I know you know that I know that you know. Y’know?

I am lucky. Not everyone can say they have friends like mine. Not everyone realizes that love can be so easy.

Love isn’t hard. Missing people is hard. But when I miss someone, that’s when I know I love them. There’s no shame in that. My Nan taught me to never say goodbye because it's too final, and my Mom taught me to never end a conversation with someone you love in rudeness and anger. Still lessons worth practicing no matter how difficult it is to do, sometimes.

There is way too much hatred and negativity in the world today, and the search for happiness is never-ending for most of us. I don’t want to be 90, dying, and wishing I had made better relationships, helped more people, loved more.

“I missed you SO much!”
Yeah, if you missed me, you probably care about me.
"K, love you!"
Just sayin.’ :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Learning

New learning opportunity this month: 

Students are going to choose how & what they learn in my room (within our framework, of course), all based on their own strengths & weaknesses, so their learning and my teaching is tailor-made for each student... 

So, I want to set up an adult 'idea sharing network,' because we often ask other teachers but rarely ask previous students... (teachers, I want you to participate, too, if you want to, and I will share everything with you!)

and this is where you come in... if you have ever been in school, or have known someone in school, please suggest (below or in a private message) something you think is important in/to education today:
- what would you like to see students learning in English class
- what do you think is important/fun/helpful when learning
- how did you learn best (listening, writing, reading, viewing)
- anything else you would like to offer

Thanks for sharing!

Just so you know - Class #1 is VERY excited to be doing this... they happily chose their novels today and can't wait to start in their groups. They are looking forward to 'their learning time' and are already choosing their next tasks. I am excited that they are excited to learn.