In the recent episode of Running Man, Yoo Jae Suk brought up a playground analogy that connected to a lot of things I’ve been thinking about this past year: when you’re young, you play at a playground. As time passes, you realize that you can’t play on that playground anymore – it’s too small, you’re too big, and it’s not fun to play the same things again and again.
He uses this analogy to explain Running Man, a Korean variety show that’s been aired for 6 years but has been declining in popularity. The cast and the production team are working hard to revamp the show, but many of the Running Man members wonder if it is time for them to quit (please, no!) because they wonder how much longer they will be needed or loved on this show. As an avid Running Man watcher, this episode was very heart-warming for me to see because I got a to take a deeper look at the strong bonds within the Running Man team, which got me thinking about my own relationships with other people.
Growing up, I loved the term, “bff” (“best friends forever”). That acronym was scrawled in my yearbook entries and engraved in old friendship necklaces. What I was really in love with though, was the word, “forever”.
There was something beautifully enchanting about the word “forever”. In my mind, it was a glittering never-ending road in a starlit galaxy. Being “bff” with someone would be so amazing. Having your first love be your last love would be so touching. I wanted and hoped for all of my relationships with other people to last forever.
This fantasy of mine slowly diminished as I continued to grow up. I realized fast that it was hard to be anything “forever” with someone. They could move away, transfer schools, and then you don’t get to see or talk to each other as much anymore and slowly, you both become closer with someone new. They could find someone better, and then the feelings that were so strong in the beginning dwindles to nothing but a sweet memory.
But I still wanted to believe that a “forever” was possible. I told myself that as an adult, I could do it if I put effort into all my relationships. I could go see someone if I really wanted to, I had my own resources, my own time – no one will stop me. Once again, this altered fantasy of mine gradually collapsed. I realized sorely that even if I worked hard to maintain a relationship with someone, it would eventually flop if the other party didn’t put in effort. It was quite a devastating concept for me to accept: not everyone I want to remain in my life will remain in my life.
Just like how you can outgrow the playground you played in as a child, I wonder if you can also “outgrow” a person in your life. It makes sense because other people may be at different points in their life, so they may be seeking for different relationships than you. And while I still get saddened at the realization that these people may walk in and out of my life instead of staying for a while, I’ve reluctantly began to see a different type of beauty in the moments our paths cross.
The biggest difference is that I no longer see “forever” as this infinite path; it has become more of a feeling instead. In the moments our paths cross, I feel a sense of “forever”, whether that be singing to old songs in the car together, playing grounders at night in an empty playground, or just lying around being bored together. So years from now, even when our lives are all different and we are all different, won’t I still feel it when I think about it?
Some things don’t last forever, but some things do. Like a good song, or a good book, or a good memory you can take out and unfold in your darkest times, pressing down on the corners and peering in close, hoping you still recognize the person you see there.
― Sarah Dessen, This Lullaby