A New Look At Friendship?

 

The Gestalt Prayer, penned in 1969 by the granddaddy of Gestalt Therapy, Fritz Perls, floated in psychotherapy circles for many years.

 

Gestalt Prayer

 

Some embraced it as a necessary reality; others shunned it as harsh. I won’t give you the details of the argument.  That’s for us to discover.  Together.

 

I’m posting it here, today, in our continuing conversation on Friendship. I hope it will raise a fine discussion.

 

(Then there is the fact that I’m still on my bi-annual Grandma Janet road trip to Ohio and I haven’t had time to give to the important topic of “when friendships end.” I will take that up when I get home and can sit quietly once again.)

 

Here it is again (for the SEOs)

I do my thing and you do your thing
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
If not, it can’t be helped.

 


Thoughts?

15 Responses

  1. Woody
    | Reply

    There are two problems with Fritz’ “prayer:” 1. It says what friendship is not, but doesn’t say what it is, except “beautiful,” and 2. I don’t quite see how it is a “prayer” by any definition of the word that I can imagine.

  2. Pat
    | Reply

    I think the most important thing is acceptance. I need to accept myself as well as you. I can’t spend my time thinking about your “faults” or things you ” lack” and try to change you. You need to do the same to me. If that is how either one of us feels then we really don’t have a friendship.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks, Pat. And welcome back; it’s been awhile. I’m glad my CommentLuv widget captured your URL. You run a fantastic resource for teachers.

      I agree that acceptance is at the core here; acceptance of what is. How easy that sounds, simple really; and so often how very hard.

      Please come back.

  3. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    I agree with Woody in that it only says that finding each other is beautiful–which of course, it is. But to me, friendship means a give and take, and although we might not be here solely to live up to someone’s expectations, I think if you care about someone, then sometimes you do things they want to do or that they expect. (Again, it also depends on the type of friendship, as we’ve discussed in earlier posts.) If you’re a friend, then you’re considerate of each other. Also, sometimes living up to someone’s expectations makes you a better person.

    This “prayer” seems so dated to me. I can imagine Woody Allen making fun of it in a movie.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      that’s a fun image, Merril. Made me smile. Or a SNL skit?

  4. Sharon Lippincott
    | Reply

    Fritz Perls was breaking new ground in his field, and a huge forest has grown from the furrows he plowed.

    He wrote another poem in the same vein that includes the lines “You are a peach. I am an orange … ” I’ve unsuccessfully scoured the earth trying to find that poem again. You are the best peach you can be, and I’m the best orange, and under no circumstances will I ever be a peach! Something like that.

    Fritz was fixated on expectations and acceptance. Perhaps respect. Friendship? Love? Fast forward a decade or two. Not even Carl Rogers got there. He used the term “Unconditional Positive Regard,” not LOVE. Just as well, perhaps. Love is a squishy word with as many levels as the new WTC. The word has become devalued on one end and cosmic on the other.

    I love Fritz Perls, and hope this comment conversation will be juicy as a Georgia peach.

    • Ian Mathie
      | Reply

      You need a variety of fruit to make a fruit salad. Let each be itself and their tastes and flavours complement each other.

      • Janet Givens
        | Reply

        I want to be the walnuts that are added later, for crunch.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Great points, Sharon. Thank you. I don’t recall the Peach/apple comment, but I do recall another one that I now also cannot find, where he was talking about love and said something to the effect that when we love someone, we don’t just love the good stuff; that’s easy. Anyone can do that. We also love the (his word here) “disgusting” parts too. I so wanted to include that quote in my memoir, but I just couldn’t find it to be certain. (for all I know; it could have been another of the Gestalt writers; one of them though).

      I think this “prayer” of Fritz’s was not specifically about close (agape) friendships, but relationships in general, perhaps those at those earlier stages Ian and I wrote of last week. The annoying coworker at the desk next to you, the surly bus driver you encounter each morning on the way to work, etc. The adolescent son who is currently driving you up a wall. A reminder for us to just let them be who they are, as we continue on being who we are. Something like that.

      Your peach/apple memory has much more juice in it. I’m so glad you posted. And my best wishes to you and yours on your current move. I trust that a year from now you’ll look back on this season and laugh. (will that be enough time?)

  5. Ian Mathie
    | Reply

    I’m glad I found you, Janet! 🙂 You’re one of life’s gems. 🙂

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Awww. I’m blushing. And thinking of that adage, “it takes one to know one.”

  6. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    As I review my mother’s letters she often says, “Well, so much for that,” her way of letting something go “that can’t be helped,” sort of an echo of Fritz Perls’ quote. Great discussion going here.

    • Ian Mathie
      | Reply

      Janet invariably inspired good discussions. she has a habit of picking interesting topics and introducing them with spice! 🙂

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Yes, I remember that saying too. My Grandmother, or was it my great-grandmother had it. I lived with both of them for a time. A kind of fatalism in that approach, I suddenly think. I can hear it now; in a clipped voice. No room for discussion.

      Thanks Marian. You always bring something new.

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