I call them, the (reminder of) friendship stones.

A Story of Six Stones & the Metaphorical “Ring Around the Rosie”

I know I’ve dreamt a dream…

I dreamed a dream, in time gone by
When friends were strong and everlasting
I dreamed our bonds would never die
I dreamed that we would be forgiving

Then I was young and so naïve
The hours spent I took for granted
There was not a clue to believe
That my friends would have ranted.

I’m afraid I have to stop there. It’s actually quite hard to try and match the song while still making it relevant. But perhaps in the future, I would continue it on further.

Friendships can be stable. Friendships can be quasi-stable, and friendships can be unstable. Just like how an energy surface works to describe how certain mechanics work, friendships, I think are no different.

Friendships that are stable are like the ones that no matter how two (or more) people get mad at each other, they will always resolve their differences and return back to the friendly equilibrium that they were at before. A quasi-stable friendship sounds like a much more chilled one, where no matter where disagreements may go, it never actually changes the integrity of the friendship. The two people are just so incredibly easy-going, and tolerant, and content with each other that they’ll always accept the other regardless of anything.

Then finally, there are the friendships that are unstable. At any moment, and at any turn, something small, something like a minor disagreement will grow – almost unstoppably – into a huge problem. Like a ball resting at the apex of a high hill, the smallest breeze, the faintest touch of a leaf, will cause the ball to roll off and down And though they seem to be resolved in the short term, more problems slowly accumulate and it wears the friendship down to a point that it is completely unrecoverable.

I feel many of the good friendships that people have are ones that are naturally stable. But even these ones, in time, slowly erode, and change, much like the drift of continents, or the occurrence of earthquakes.

My main social circle now seems to be falling into an unstable category. Perhaps this is the case for large groups. With so many factors and interactions, stability may vary of time.

Like all good friendships, it never used to be unstable, but it feels unstable now. Like a circle of people playing “Ring around the Rosie”, it was in a connected equilibrium. It was in balance. And for a long while we had a very stable [metaphoric and literal] circle. It didn’t matter that we were separated by different universities. It didn’t seem to matter that I was on the other side of the country. For three long years after high school, it seemed that nothing had changed, and nothing would change. It felt that our social circle would survive immortality.

But times do change. Handholds tire, and once the first hand lets go, once the first slip of hands happens, it’s half-chance what will happen next. Immediately, once the first broken link happened, the two, who’d held each other together so closely, flew apart like the recoil of all the lash-back in the world. And in that moment, everyone feels like they’re in free-fall. Everyone. With just one broken link in the handholds keeping the “Ring around the Rosie” together, everyone starts to fall, flung out of the circle, no longer able to hold together. [The non-nerd can interpret this as the pseudo “centrifugal” force] The collateral damage, ripples around the group. The most closely affected people, fall silently on their bum, onto the floor.

When all the dust has settled, we realize that the connection that was dependent on the unity and cooperation of everyone, was broken.  And the tie that bound, shattered.

Sometimes, we pick ourselves up. And we restart our merry circle again. Sometimes, it’s harder to pick ourselves up, knowing that the other released their hand on purpose. For what reason, I can fathom, and I can understand. But the consequences, and execution, I do not agree with.

For now, we have lost our circle. The sore butts, and the injuries, linger. We try to help each other, but there is only so much that we can do. For some of us, have rejoined hands, to spin again. But others, have taken a step back, to sit on a bench, or to find another “ring”. And it weighs heavily on the burdens of everyone else. We feel, powerless. We feel, unconsidered.

But in moments of heat, it is hard to consider the full picture. Your hand is tired, your grip is slipping. I admire the ones who hold on to the bitter end of struggle, but not everyone does the same.

It is something natural. Something inevitable, (I see). We are human. And something we must strive to be able to raise ourselves from the ground from, and keep going. We cannot intervene in the fate of others. But we can hold true to ourselves.

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on.

–Mary Schmich

It makes me sad to think that of the day that comes, from no fault of my own, that I have to let go of a friend. Not because I haven’t tried, not because I’m willing to let them go, but because is futile. It is pointless, and inevitable. We are friends, and we hold true to each other, but for what it’s worth, not everyone is willing to accept help. Times change, and people change. I accept that.

But that is always what hurts the post. To be a bystander, to watch friendship detaching events like this unfold, yet to be overcome by this immaculate sense of futility.

But we must plan for another day, another path forward. We must move on. Accept the past for what the past is, and learn in order to adapt for a new day.

These stones in my featured picture are gifts that I gave to each of the six other individuals in this circle of friends after this had happened. I returned home to visit them, and presented each one with a stone I felt represented, or was a goal to them.

Home was for the friend who had returned at last, to remind him of his place in our circle, and role in this circle.

Courage was for our most outgoing friend, and for him to show strength upon his upcoming graduation, and entry into the working life.

Peace was for the friend who finally at terms with himself, even after all the battles and collateral damage showered onto everyone.

Hope was for the friend to see a better day in all of this, and to have a faith, both in herself and for others.

Love was for the friend who needed to take a step back and to appreciate the true value of the subtleties in friendship.

Joy was for the friend who I wished well to recover from the fall, and hope to soon rekindle happiness again.

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