We are nearly at the end of our third round of watching Friends.
Yes, all the series, all the episodes, nearly three times.
The first time was about 4 years ago, then we watched again during the pandemic, and then we started again as my eldest started to move away from home. It’s what he wants to watch together when we he is home. It’s what we watch before bed.
Because it’s like a bedtime story
where there is laughter
It feels like getting into a warm bath on a winter’s day.
It is like being amongst people you know well,
being with family.
Does this make us sad (as in pathetic rather than miserable?)
I can understand why you might think that,
but for us, it is something which links us, which brings us all together in laughter and familiarity,
it echoes bits of our lives, we see bits of each other in the characters,
we don’t have to think too hard, we can just easily be together.
And every time it ends, I feel sad.
Each time I wonder why and come to a different conclusion.
This time I think it is because I see them breaking off into dyads; nuclear families, when they have been living communally
with Joey eating from anyone’s fridge,
the way they all live in and out of each other’s homes,
This time I feel sad because I know that the romance of coupledom and family raising also brings loneliness and isolation. That the pressure to try to be everything to someone is too much. That the research shows that we unequivocally are social creatures and do better within a community.
The saying that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is so true. Some of my happiest parenting has been with other parents and families sharing childcare, play and fun. Some of my hardest moments have been trying to do it all, be it all, alone.
I feel sad as Chandler and Monica go to their big house in the suburbs and Phoebe hunkers down with Mike, as Ross finally gets together with Rachel and Joey, well Joey is left alone. Together is their strength. Joey fights the changes and I see his pain, his family, the friend-family who has been part of for 10 years is breaking down and away.
My friends have always been part of my family; My deepest friendships are soul family, they see me as I am and hold the light for me when I have forgotten how to be the light myself. Some people have that in their family, but so many people don’t; which is why a circle of close friends can be such a gift. We may not all have had drag queen fathers and sexpot mothers like Chandler, but many people have critical parents like Rachel, absent or dead parents like Phoebe and so friends fill that gap.
I spent holidays in community and I am so grateful that my kids and I have been able to. Having done it for 10 years or more, I know how much it has meant to us all to be with other families, many of whom become friends, some who don’t, but all of whom have taught us how to get along with people who are different from us, how to problem solve, who to share, how to create, reflect, imagine and play with people we aren’t related to, across ages, classes and all the others spectrums of diversity.
So as Friends approaches it’s end for the third time in this house, I hope we will watch it again, I hope we will find ways to live it, I hope my kids find friends like these who will love them and share lives with them.
For there is nothing that matters more to me that love
not the small, conditional, romantic packaged kind
but the kind we see on Friends.
Love that shares coffees, plays jokes, holds you to account, speaks hard truths, argues, hugs, cries, ages, shares, includes, strengthens and brings more and more love into the world.
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