“Some people come into your life for a season, and some come for a lifetime.” I’ve always been perplexed by that statement. I’ve been through many people as fleeting as a season in my 40 years on this earth. But what really defines a person who sticks around for a season vs one you know will be around for a lifetime? Are the former just strangers you say hello to on the street? The barista at your favorite coffee shop? The front desk person at the gym? One-night stands? A girlfriend or boyfriend of only six weeks and it’s over? These are all short-lived interactions, but they have some bearing on you. Is it depth or duration that defines this kind of relationship? Lifetime people, on the other hand, do they include your long-term relationships, parents, childhood friends, your boss of 10 years, and your therapist?
The lines can blur a tremendous amount. Or maybe it’s our initial impressions that can be deceiving. I’ve had interactions that I thought would be fleeting grow into a lifetime bond. Then I’ve had ones that I thought would stick around for a lifetime turn out to be short-lived. Either way, each interaction has had some sort of impact on my life regardless of what category it may fall into.
Anyone you allow into your life will affect you one way or another. I do believe you need to keep your distance from and eliminate toxic people. However, those folks could fall into either area really. A parent or sibling by definition could be considered a lifetime person, but what if your relationship is strained? Can you relegate them to “for a season” status? What if you go to the same restaurant every day and have the same server? That may be your only interaction with them, but they remember your order and how you like your coffee. For 10 years. The relationship may not be particularly deep, but they are a healthy aspect of your routine.
Instead of worrying about how long people are going to stick around, what if we just accepted that every person we encounter can teach us something about ourselves and how we interact in the world? We change our focus to what these people bring to our lives at that moment. Whether it be one moment or a million moments.
As you get older it’s natural for your “circle” to get smaller. However, in my line of work, I interact with dozens of people daily. I do my best to take each interaction as a way for me to learn about myself and others. Every interaction is not necessarily a life-changing event and you could argue that if some of these people disappeared tomorrow my life would not be impacted. The reverse is the same as me in their lives, but you really can learn from every interaction, good or bad.
I’m not saying every person you encounter will be in your life forever or that you’ll like everyone you meet and vice versa. In the words of Steve Jobs, “If you want everyone to like you, change your name to ice cream.” Even then some people don’t like ice cream. In the end, all we need to do is be as open as we can be to those that enter our lives, and be grateful for and learn from the time, regardless of whether it lasts for a season or a lifetime.
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