It is my profound good fortune to be spending this week with an amazing human being called Julie: she is and has been one of my best friends for 25 years. We live quite different lives, and almost entirely in different parts of the world, but we have an unerring commitment to each other.
If ever I need her, she will be on the next plane to be by my side, and vice versa. We are not blood sisters, but we are most definitely soul sisters. I have a few of these amazing women in my inner circle, and they always feature in my daily morning gratitudes.
Although I was not blessed with a sibling circle, I was most certainly blessed with a girlfriend circle, and that is in and of itself a privilege.
Our relationship has matured and become richer as the years have passed, much like a good marriage may, if you are lucky enough to experience that.
We have both lived through challenging times: like loss of both our parents, plus a sibling for me, and a husband for her; both of us having husbands who we nursed through brain tumours, and to an extent, relationship issues which in retrospect (at least on my part), I put down to both of us being gypsy souls whereby we are free spirits who are fiercely independent and have a deep rooted need to live life on our own terms.
This is not particularly conducive to a deep and connected marriage, and I will be the first to admit that after two marriages, I feel I make a much better ex-wife than wife. I say that because my relationship with my two exes is idyllic; we care about each other, and I would do anything to help either of them as they would me.
Through the years, these life circumstances have been a very bonding force for Julie and I, and although we have shared painful experiences, our friendship has deepened for that very reason. As Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
Thus, we make a pact to spend quality time together as often as we possibly can. We have slept in a Bedouin tent in the middle of Wadi Rum (Jordan), we have climbed up the steep hill to visit the Tian Tan Buddha in Hong Kong, and we have enjoyed spiritual connection on a retreat in Nepal.
Covid put a dent in our committed meet ups, but as and when lockdown eased up two and a half years ago, we finally got to spend almost two weeks together in Corfu. I flew in from Florida, and Julie flew in from Dubai: it takes effort, it takes commitment, it takes financial resources, but where there is a will there is a way.
As I write today, we are making that happen in Portugal on a one-week sojourn, staying in a hotel with a magical view overlooking an old castle guarding the port of CasCais. We are so aligned in our thoughts that whichever of us is the first to rise will be staring pensively out of the patio doors at the pink tinged sunrise on the horizon, lost in our own deep thoughts because that is who we are.
We are like clones, and often we are thinking about the same subject, which is really rather spooky. Last night I was beyond excited to witness a stunning orange moon and on sharing that Julie leapt out of her bed to come see it too. We have both, to some extent, retained our childlike qualities and that continues to bond us even in our seventh decade.
If you have human beings in your inner circle that continue to bring out that childlike quality, please embrace it: such moments will enhance your sense of well-being dramatically.
We chose to pay a premium for a sea view room because we both have an overwhelming need to be near the ocean. We both like to sleep pretty early, we both like to dabble in watercolor painting, we both enjoy the practice of reading angel cards every morning.
Then we both need to walk in nature and move our bodies constantly with stretching exercises, we both are a little OCD about the number of steps showing up on our Fitbits. Being with a friend who makes you feel so comfortable is truly a wonderful thing.
We have enjoyed shopping together, foot massages, good food, good wine, good green tea. The point being, just taking time to enjoy the friendship journey is an incredibly valuable one.
Equally important is the ability to give each other space as and when needed, and again, we are intuitive to each other’s needs. No pressure is ever applied: if I want to go walk and Julie doesn’t, so be it. If Julie wants to spend time editing her fabulous soon-to-be-released book. (Find her at www.Julie-Lewis.com.)
Because yet another aspect of our deep friendship is that we are both ambivert: we love our time together, but we both have a deep need for alone time to recharge our batteries. Julie has a delightful saying that I have adopted since we arrived in Portugal: “You do you, and I’ll do me.” It has become another classic laughter-inducing saying that I am sure we will be using for years to come.
In the busy world we live in today, I highly recommend you make a conscious effort to spend time with your best and closest friends: even if that means the occasional lunch date or a day on the town enjoying time outside your family environment or daily routine. It does us good to participate in moments of uncomplicated camaraderie, embracing fun and laughter that only friends can evoke.
My greatest wish is that Julie and I will always have good mental health that will enable us to remember and cherish wonderful memories we have built in the past. That we will always be there for each other in the present no matter where, no matter when.
That we will stay committed in the future to planning fabulous, fun trips that bring us together physically, spiritually and emotionally for as long as we are capable of getting on planes and crisscrossing through the open skies to get our friendship fix. Simply put, that we will continue to feed our best friends’ joy through our 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond.
Do you spend quality time with your inner circle of friends? How important is it to you to nurture friendships in later life? Are your friendships deeper and more meaningful in your 60s?