I’ve been quite a social person for most of my life. I get that quality from my parents and it’s great for getting to know new people in unfamiliar settings. My parents always had tons of friends. For instance, they pretty much knew every Indian family that moved to the Cleveland area from 1964 to 1981. And it was great in that we were always doing something on the weekends. But as I’ve grown older and befriended many people through job changes, residence city changes, and social activities, I’ve realized that friendships do take a lot of effort to maintain. It makes you wonder how many friends one should have.
My grandma always told my mother that friends are like gold. And they are because they enrich our lives, but they are gold that requires “maintenance”. I don’t mean to make friendships seem like ownership of property, but interaction keeps friendships going and interactions take time and effort. Grad school, home ownership, maintaining closeness to family or significant others all take their toll on friendships. Sometimes, the things I do with friends depends largely on some randomness of who’s available when I’m available or who calls me. And since I’m trying to not talk on the phone while I drive for safety reasons, I have less time to talk to them. Just catching up on paperwork or writing posts for “Things I’ve Noticed” robs time from my friends.
It’s a tough call, because although it takes effort, as we get busier, having more friends increases the likelihood of having somebody to do something with. And there’s power in numbers. If you have few friends and a couple of them move away, you have much less of a circle. But having fewer friends allows you to be closer to each of them. Friendships parallel what love relationships are based on. In a way, you use your friends for companionship, conversation, and just to keep you from being lonely. They “use” you in return, but it’s generally with good intentions. Sometimes fake friends use you to make money or get ahead. Just the fact that I’m trying to collect charity money for my 100 Mile Bike Ride this coming Sunday sometimes makes me feel like I am using my friends, but I don’t think they see it that way. If I was on the other end, I probably wouldn’t see it that way either.
Defining who your friends even are can be tough. Back in the early 90’s, I used to define it by who I hung out with on weekends (if local), or by who would call me long distance when it cost money. Now, I can’t use either gage. I do have lots of acquaintances I call friends and you never know how to handle them or what to invite them to. Reciprocation is a good thing to watch for, but it has to start somewhere. How many times have you met a new “friend” who said they’d call or email you only to never hear from that person again? When life circumstances change, friends can become distant friends or former friends. And then there are virtual friends who I’ve met only on-line. They’re friends in a completely different sense. I do know that I personally like having lots of friends because that’s what I’m comfortable with. As long as my friends can handle the fact that this may keep me from being very close to most of them, we’ll be alright.
I rode my bicycle more than 70 miles last week with the Minneapolis Team in Training team. I’m training with them for my 100 Mile bike ride at Lake Tahoe on June 1 to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and to honor my dad. (Please click on the link to the right to donate.) Anyway, 70 miles seemed like a major physical ordeal to me and my body. It dawned on me that people ride hundreds of miles a week. Some of them are older too. Besides doing these kinds of things for charity, to get physically healthy, or for a sense of accomplishment though, working out in general doesn’t make much sense.
All that exertion doesn’t do much for society. It doesn’t accomplish anything. Nobody gets fed, no power gets generated; we just use up (now expensive) food calories to move ourselves or machines around and the energy exertion results in meaningless motion. What if all the machines in a gym were hooked up to a generator to reduce emissions from our power plants? Or what if we had organized volunteer days where we transported bags of grain or building supplies for volunteer organizations and built up our fitness at the same time? Then our work-outs would be doing work.
I’m just as guilty as anybody. I play sports, bicycle, and work out to stay (somewhat) fit, and it’s all entertainment and agony. It doesn’t work that great. Of course this is mostly my fault, I would say working out doesn’t work out for most other people as well. That’s because it’s boring and often mindless. Perhaps we would all be more motivated if we worked out for the benefit of society or the environment.
We basically put ourselves through a work-out’s extreme stress to look good and so that we can eat more unhealthy, scrumptious foods. We want to look good so that we can find an attractive mate who brings us pleasure. So when we work out, we are partaking in hedonism. There are physical benefits such as feeling good, and stress relief, but those would be trumped if we worked out to do work.