Friends

Brad and John

For some reason I’ve been thinking a lot about friends this week. Perhaps it is because I’m longing for some time with two of my best friends who I haven’t seen in awhile. It might be because I haven’t been on the road with my colleague Brad (above), who has become a good friend as well as a business associate. Maybe it is because this week I got to grab a couple of beers with some guys here in Charlotte that I don’t get to see as often as I’d like, but enjoy spending time with very much and wish I could develop deeper friendship with. Whatever the reason, friends and friendship have been on my mind a lot lately.

I don’t really have a lot of friends. I don’t know if I’m different than a lot of people in this regard, but it feels like it. I’m not talking about Facebook friends or good acquaintances. I’m talking about real, true, love hanging out with and can share life with friends. My wife is my best friend, no contest. After that, I have 2 guys who I’ve shared everything in life with for over 20 years who know me better than anyone on the planet (maybe even better than my wife). From there, there is really only one more circle for me and there are probably 8-10 people in that circle and I call them friends. These are the people I WISH I could spend more time with, I make time to see as much as possible, and who can pick up a conversation the moment we’re together like we just spent all day together yesterday. These are the people I vacation with, travel with, and share free time with. These are the people I call, text, and email on a regular basis. These are friends.

Sometimes I feel bad about not having a bunch of friends. Sometimes I feel bad about not really wanting any new friends. Sure, relationships come and go in life and during certain seasons we become close with people because of work, or our kids, or being neighbors, or any number of reasons. Rarely for me, however, do these circumstantial ‘friends’ morph into true friendships, and usually, that is ok with me. But I still sometimes feel bad about not developing closer friendships.

There is a quote by Henry David Thoreau that my wife loves and is starting to grow on me:

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.”
                                                                                              – Henry David Thoreau

I know why Jessi loves it; as a military brat living all over the U.S. and internationally growing up, it was mostly her and her parents. As an only child, she was the only one that had to decide what to do or where to go and she went. Now that we have our own kids, the “waiting until that other is ready” part is a reality we can’t escape. But we still travel light and do things on our own and that allows us to “start today” more often than not. We don’t do elaborate group outings and multi-family vacations much, our kids aren’t involved in the typically ‘coordinated’ sports activities, and we don’t plan every minute of every weekend. So for us, it has become “a family that goes alone can start today.” I’m beginning to place a lot of value on this trait of our family. We have had some pretty neat experiences when we’ve decided on a whim to head out on an adventure. It has created a flexible, albeit somewhat isolated, way of doing life.

Now I’m an extrovert, through and through, so I don’t foresee a day when I become a hermit. As I grow older, however, I recognize more than ever that it is true friendship, with a few that you care about, that is really valuable. So, I will continue to commit and invest in those few friends that I have. And I may even be more open to the development of new friendships as they come up. For you see, while I may not see them as much as I’d like, I know that what A.A. Milne wrote in Winnie the Pooh is true…

“Friendship,” said Christopher Robin, “is a very comforting thing to have.”

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