We are Pando, not friend furniture

I just had one of those “ah ha” moments and I felt I needed to write it down. So here comes my sloppy thoughts spilled out all over this blog.

I have too often worried that in order to be a good friend I must be available, kind, generous and unimposing. I have thought that what the world wants from me is to be there but in the way a chair is there, useful without being in the way. There have been times when I tried to be more than just a useful chair, times when I tried to be something, to mean something to my friends. And those efforts have not always been met with kindness. More than once I’ve been put back in my place.

I’ve been rewatching Schitt’s Creek on Netflix and I just finished season 5, episode 14 – Life Is A Cabaret and revelation struck as I watched Emily Hampshire who plays Stevie Budd sing Maybe This Time. You see, Stevie Budd’s character goes through a bit of a transformation over the course of the series. She’s presented as a bit of a loner in the first season. And as the series progresses and she spends time with the Roses, we see her putting herself out there more and more, in relationships, in her job and even taking the role of Sally Bowles in the small town production of Cabaret. She overcomes her fears and gives a strong performance that leaves one misty eyed.

Watching Stevie playing Sally sing a hopeful song about the possibility of finding love hit me hard. Stevie’s life had changed so much since the start of the show. I doubt she had ever given any thought to being in a musical, let alone starring in one. And, yet, here she was, doing something she never thought she’d do. I felt the parallels to my own life at the moment.

The show obviously focuses on the way the Rose family changes and evolves over the course of the six seasons it aired. We see all four Roses overcome obstacles and character defects as they come to grips with their new reality. We’re meant to watch as the people of the tiny town of Schitt’s Creek influence the once affluent Roses and help them on their evolutionary climb. But what I noticed this time around was the way the Roses impacted those around them as well, especially Stevie.

Watching Stevie sing I thought, “We all come into each other’s lives for a reason.” I worry so much sometimes that I will lose another friend by just being myself. I worry a lot about being too much for other people. But the truth is, we all come into each other’s lives for a reason. Stevie might never have played the role of Sally Bowles if Moira Rose hadn’t “encouraged” her to do so. Moira wasn’t worried about being too much for Stevie. Being too much is Moira’s whole personality. And, yet, it works.

If I’m in your life and you are in mine, we are going to have influence over each other. That is how life works. None of us are meant to be friend furniture and anyone who expects us to be friend furniture for them isn’t really a friend. We come into each other’s life for a reason. What that reason is, who can say. I can think of a few people who came into my life to show me how NOT to treat people. I carry those lessons with me and I use what I’ve learned in order to be a kinder, wiser, more patient person.

Yes, I can be a lot for some people. And, yes, some people would prefer it if I were just friend furniture for them, a useful chair they can sit on but that isn’t in their way. But others? They like me just the way I am. I can tell by the way they smile at certain things I say or how I know one particular friend will probably be the first one to read this. For them, they embrace the influence I have over them. And I, in turn, embrace the influence they have over me.

We are meant to inspire each other. We’re meant to show each other what a kinder, more caring and compassionate world can look like. We’re meant to hold each other in the bad times AND the good times. No person is an island. We’re all aspens, like Pando, believed to be the largest living organism on the planet. Pando is not a grove of individual aspen trees. It is a single organism with an interconnected root system that sprouts new aspen clones. Looking at Pando, you’d think it was a forest of individual trees but it is, in fact, just one single organism. That is us. We think we are individuals when were are, in fact, all interconnected, dependent on each other.

Pando, the Trembling Giant – Richfield, Utah - Atlas Obscura

I may be a lot but to some I am perfect the way I am. And to those who want friend furniture, they will have to look elsewhere. I will be channeling my inner Moira from now on, inspiring my inner Stevie every step of the way. I came into your life for a reason and you came into mine for a reason as well. We don’t have to figure out what the reason is. We just have to lean into the idea that we can all learn from each other. And we must remember we are more interconnected than we know. No one is friend furniture. We are all Pando.

Love you.

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