I want to learn all I can, live as wisely as I can, and savor every moment on the journey.
Below is my entry for this week’s Carrot Ranch’s flash fiction challenge of writing a 99-word story about “a hard place and a connection” and, below that, some reflections and explanations on the concept my story puts forth. (I’ll aim for a less concept-based story next week!)
The Friend Inside
A sudden breeze rose up and ruffled Maggie’s hair as she gazed over the valley. The wind was changing inside her, too.
Loneliness had become her straightjacket in the past year. The more desperately she struggled to make friends in this unfriendly town, the more isolated she felt.
Now she was giving up. Aloneness had won.
But, somehow, this decision only lightened and sweetened the silence that had oppressed her for so long.
“I’ll keep trying to make friends,” she said, “but in the meantime, I’ll enjoy my own company. I will become my own friend.”
Her heart smiled.
Behind the Scenes
I discovered this concept of being my own friend during a period of great loneliness and transition in my life a few years ago. I relied on it then more than I do now, but it’s still a helpful construct for me.
Essentially, what “being my own friend” means to me is having a rich sense of self-connection. It’s a type of introspection that isn’t about analysis, but about companionship, self-reliance, and literal independence. As my own friend, I laugh at myself, savor memories that no one else knows, talk to myself about what’s going on in my life as I would with a friend, and rely on my inner, wiser self for guidance and grounding. I guess what I’m technically doing is splitting my consciousness of my “self” into fluid, interacting parts.
Ok, so maybe it’s a little crazy. But really, it improves my sanity! When I feel stressed, fearful, disappointed, or upset in some other way, it calms me down to turn inward and relate to myself as a caring, knowing, and reliable friend. As another example, when I’m just feeling worn out from being around people for too long, even if I’m not yet alone, I can retreat inside to my friend-self, and I suddenly feel refreshed and centered again.
It turned out, when I first hit upon this self-connection strategy, that it was the exact same thing I’d always done with “God” when I was a Christian (I wrote about this in more detail on my other blog here). As Emerson wrote, “Blessed is the day when the youth discovers that Within and Above are synonyms.” All along, “God” was really just me, in this inner-friend sense, except I truly believed I was talking to a different entity altogether. Now that’s what is a little crazy, if you ask me! But if you still prefer the construct of “God,” go for it. Whatever helps you get through life and be the best you that you can be.
For me, it’s being my own friend.