It was Meg that first introduced me to the great metaphorical table. Nina Simone actually introduced it to her through a song. You’ve got to learn to leave the table, when love’s no longer being served. Meg (and Nina) made me think a lot about my own table. They made me think about who has pulled up a seat and stayed awhile. It made me think about the people that stood up too fast and scratched the floors with their chair when they abruptly left, or the people that brought a full 3 course dinner to share with everyone else at the table.
When I think about this metaphorical table, I think about love and kindness and respect. That's what I ask of people when they pull up a chair. I like to think that all of the people I love and admire are all sitting around it, ready for a cup of tea and a chat when it's needed. All of these people have things in common. They are all good-hearted people. They all have kind souls. They are always reaching their open hand out to help, and they are always there for me when I need it badly.
Sometimes I meet someone really incredible and I invite them to join us at this big metaphorical table. The more the merrier! The more good-hearted people, the better. I will embrace you and always make room at this table, because I can't get enough good people in my life. There is no limit. I'll put in an extra table leaf or four to make sure we all fit comfortably, because I want to make sure every person I love and admire is comfortable. I want to learn about your life and your dreams and your fears and what makes you feel free. I want to know all of it, and I want to help you in any way that I can.
I want everyone to be at my table and vice versa. I want to help and be helped, for as little or as long as I can. Since life is long and hard, there are times people must leave the table. Not everyone is supposed to stay in your life forever, was something I heard a lot over the past year. It's true. We do go through a lot in our lifetime. We grow and change and make mistakes and do bad things and good things. Sometimes we outgrow people without realizing. Sometimes relationships can't survive that. Sometimes they aren't meant to survive it, either. Once I began to accept that, I began realizing how vital it is to make space at the table, even if they may not be there at dinner the next day.
I also had to realize that I don't have to make space for people that I don't want at my table, and I don't have to make space for people that feel the need to come and go when it's beneficial for them.
I mean, it is my table after all.
There are some people that abuse the space that was created for them; the space that my table-mates and I made for them at that metaphorical table. Sometimes we make a huge space for a specific person; give them everything they ask for, give them the chair cushion we were so comfortably sitting on, and give them the best of the best. Sometimes we only make a small space for people; maybe this is their second, third, or fourth time visiting and we are being reluctant about inviting them back to the table. Or maybe we are just letting people in, one small space at a time.
But sometimes people take advantage of whatever space we give them, big or small.
The relationships we have with the people in our lives are supposed to be a two way street. When love isn't being served anymore, it's time to leave. When friendship isn't being served anymore, it's time to leave. When kindness and respect isn't being served anymore, it's 100% time to leave. It can be so hard to leave people behind, but I promise it's okay to be the one to leave. It's okay to make that decision for yourself and for your own life. It's okay to put yourself first.
There are those moments when others are the ones that get to make the decision to leave in whatever way they feel is appropriate, and that's okay. Wish them well. Thank them. Thank them for entering your life and bringing whatever it was they brought to the table, whether it was a lesson you needed to learn or a new outlook on life. Thank them for leaving a little mark at your table. But please remember that you are the one that gets to decide whether they get to sit back down in the future or not.
I'm 22-turning-23. I'm not that old, but I've had my fair share of people come and go. I've had people stay for years and then decide it was time to get up from my table. I've also asked people to leave when I really didn't want to see them go. But I want the best of the best around my table. The people that love me for the mess I am. The people that call me out on shit. The people that keep me sane. The people that have sat down at my metaphorical table and carved their names into the wood, reminding me that they are always there when I need it. The people that bring stuff to the table. The people I love.
If my people are still here at this big table, I'll keep making sure the kettle is warm for when they come. I'll even have a mug or two ready for when someone new pulls up a chair.
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