The idea of time being linear has baffled me for quite a while. Everything we as humans know in this universe run in cycles, yet time continues forward, unbending, like some kind of metaphysical unbreakable comb?
From the beginning of existence, our lives have been based on cycles. The rotation of the earth around the sun, harvest seasons and lunar cycles dictating the currents of the sea — these all shape how we live our lives.
Our society has issues with change. Even when we know it’s coming, change throws us for a loop, casting uncertainty over our ever-so-certain lives. We fear death as if it is not inevitable. We act as if we are immortal — physically, emotionally, spiritually. Nothing in our life is supposed to end unless we want it to. Change will only happen by our accord, no one else’s. Man controls his destiny. Everything is as we want it be, until it isn’t.
Time waits for no man. The universe continues on with its cycles, looping constantly like an infinite hamster wheel. We all get tossed by the wayside at one point or another, hay flung from the wheel as the animal pushes on, gently fluttering through the air before crashing back to where we started.
Dutch sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst understands the cycles of life. Well, at least one, specifically. In 2009, the Utrecht University professor released a study about the change in people’s social lives. Mollenhorst found that while the size of our social circle stays roughly the same, the people in it change drastically. Just under half of your friends will no longer be around. The study doesn’t list any specific reasons for this change other than simple growth as a person.
As I reach my 28th birthday, my fourth trip through the friend cycle, I’ve been reflecting on my relationships, past and present. Most relationships end organically, just two people drifting apart over time. Others end more abruptly over serious matters. This is where questions arise as to why we are no longer compatible. The simplistic answer is that two people just grow weary of one another and need to part ways. Other relationships begin to take precedent, leaving behind “what is” for “what was.” Flaw and faults can no longer be overlooked, gradually outweighing the benefits of friendship.
It happens to all of us multiple times over the years. I’ve been on both sides of friendships ending. I’ve ended contact with people who I felt were no longer a positive influence in my life and I’ve been left wondering why my phone calls were not being returned. Some departures hurt more than others, but they all have a lasting effect. The lessons learned in these relationships are should make us better people, better friends. They sharpen our judgment of character — of others and of ourselves. Not every friendship has a set expiration date of seven years, however. There are people who can remain close for an entire lifetime. Their bond stays strong through various life stages and changes, both subtle and drastic.
I currently stand at a crossroads in two of my longest and tightest relationships. Both are nearing the nine-year mark and both are at a turning point. I’m not sure how things will play out. It could just be a bump in the road, or my world could come crashing down. Either way it plays out, our relationships will never be the same. And if either, or both, comes to an end, there’s not much I can do, as heartbreaking as it is. I’ll just have to let go and move on, slowly falling back to the haystack, hoping to catch on and start the cycle over again.