Yesterday I took my 79-year-old friend to the hairdresser. We go out a couple of times a week, with occasional stops at the store to stock her refrigerator or at the drug store to pick up a prescription. Then we visit for a while when we get back and catch up on family news.
As baby boomers, we have collected a lot of friends over the last 50 to 60 years. Some of us still stay in touch with people we knew as children. Most of us have at least a few high school or college buddies. We have work friends and social acquaintances, poker buddies and professional contacts.
One of the most basic rules that all parents try to drill into their children’s heads is “don’t talk to strangers.”
I’m sure that you did the same thing with your kids. I know I did. From the time that my boys were old enough to play outside, I used repetition, role-playing and threats to get them to follow this simple rule.
Isolation sneaks up on ya! Has it snuck up on you too?
I had been building my business as an “Influencer” for over 35 years and this year decided to do something differently. However, disconnecting from that business network for a different focus caught me with a sideline surprise.
Hopscotch. We played the game every day after school. We played it on the sidewalks and in the playgrounds outside the eighteen-floor brick building that was our home in Brooklyn, New York. We played as a way to hang out with each other. We were friends. We were friends because we were the same age and lived a floor from each other.
How do we hang out with our friends as adults?
The older I get, the more clearly I see – through my new trifocals – that life really is a give and take proposition, often with equally unsatisfactory results.
We’ve forgotten some of the gentler social niceties in our quick, digital world. Before there was Facebook, we actually told people Happy Birthday to their faces, or we sent them a card.
When was the last time you felt really listened to? Can you think of a time when somebody sat down with you and gave you their undivided, respectful attention? Do you know the feeling of being encouraged to go deeper, to tap into your own knowing in the presence of another?
My friends are getting sick at an alarming rate. No doubt it goes with the aging process. We all get our share of aches and pains but some illnesses are a matter of life and death.
When your friend is diagnosed with a serious illness, what’s the best way to respond?