I’ve always prided myself on having a great group of friends….you know, the kind of friends that you can call to help you hide the evidence?? But as I grow older, I find that the characteristics that I value most in those closest to me have changed over the years. In fact, the term “friendship” itself has changed.
I recently lost a close friend from childhood; in fact, he was one of those friends that when I think back on my childhood, I feel like I’ve always known him. We had always been friends. We graduated high school together but unfortunately had drifted apart as we went our separate ways for college and adulthood. Of course we would email once in a while and I would see him every couple of years when I would visit my hometown. Unfortunately, in my mind, these feeble attempts at contact and keeping up qualified as friendship. It wasn’t until I learned of his death that I felt a sense of loss….. a sense of having lost out on the last 20 years of his life, the last 20 years of shared friendship, the last 20 years of him. It was this sense of sadness that made me reflect upon those closest to me now and the bonds that brought us together and the bonds that keep us close.
Quality Over Quantity
During this period of reflection and self-evaluation, I discovered that “quality” certainly trumped “quantity” when I thought of those closest to me and this hasn’t always been the case. As the old saying goes, “the more, the merrier” and this was how I viewed friendship for many years. Let’s be honest, at points in life we’ve all wanted to be the most popular or to have the most friends….and this was before the arrival of social media. Whether it was having the most people sign your cast when you broke an arm or a leg or having the most people possible to sign your yearbook, I took this as a sign of validation that I was popular and that I had real friends. But as I viewed my life now versus years past, somewhere along the way I began to “shed” relationships and cultivate stronger, more meaningful relationships with a fewer number of people. Is this wise? Is this logical? I don’t know….I suppose for me, it’s more about being my reality. The fact that it organically occurred without a lot of conscious thought made it seem more natural and organic. Regardless of how it happened, when I thought about those closest to me I thought of the many wonderful times we’ve shared and these moments of wonder weren’t always orchestrated or planned The thing that makes me smile most about those closest to me and these times we’ve shared is that they just are…..the people and our times together.
I can’t describe the genesis or the common bonds of this wonderful array of different people that have become closest to me. However, what I do know is that as I grow older and become settled and content in a life much different than I ever intended is that those closest to me are collectively a reflection of the person I am today……some are complex, some are less complex, some are funny, some aren’t funny, some are extroverted, some are introverted, some are traditionally beautiful, some are beautifully non-traditional. In short, they are all pieces of the person that I’ve become and collectively reflect who I am and who I’ve become.
As life marches forward and etches a few more wrinkles, I become more dependent upon these wonderfully different friendships and value them in different ways. I reflect upon the great people that have traveled through my life and while others have moved on, many like Bill have left a mark on my life and who I am. Sadly, I won’t be able to tell Bill how much I value and miss the wonderfully simple times we shared growing up, the wonderful times we had before we began this thing called adulting. So, I’m going to try to do just that……I’m going to share with one person each day the joy they bring to my life and the impact they have me. I don’t want life to be social media, I don’t want 1800 friends; I want a life with those people where I share with them what they mean to me and hopefully those friends where I can be equally as impactful upon them……..and most importantly, I still want friends who help me hide the evidence when necessary!