As we journey down the road of life, I often wonder what lies ahead, just beyond that bend in the curve. We all know that our path is never quite straight, that there are bumps, curves, and roadblocks that constantly get in the way of our leisurely walk.
We saunter along, becoming complacent with our surroundings, with the normalcy of our routine. And then it happens. We suddenly look up and are shocked that right in front of us is darkness with gray menacing clouds threatening our peace.
We hesitate with unbelieving eyes, our breath quickens, and our hearts become heavy with the weight of worry. The uncertainty of those clouds is frightening; that’s what really scares me. Does it scare you?
Close your eyes and envision your own path. Look with eyes that are filled with creative images of how the world around you appears. Is it a path that is beautifully filled with the boundless peace of nature? Are there trees and flowers, birds of all colors, skies that are blue?
Are your lips turned up in a smile, a look of eagerness on your face, lighting up your path with the sheer energy of your presence? Is there someone walking down that path with you, just a few steps behind or directly by your side?
Or is your walk not any of those descriptions? Is it one that is blurred, uncertain, or worse – one that is dark, mysterious, and full of foreboding fear, much like Dorothy’s walk in the haunted forest on the Yellow Brick Road? The path that has her fearful of what the darkness means.
It’s not where you go, but who you meet along the way.—Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
But, if you remember the story of Oz, Dorothy’s journey wasn’t lonesome. She had the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow by her side. Her companions. Her partners. Her friends. At this point in your life, who’s by your side?
When you go through six or so decades of friends, they probably fall into different categories. You have childhood friends, the ones that you made when you were young and carefree. Then you have your high school or college friends, the ones you probably first spread your wings with.
Then come your adult friends, the ones with kids your own children’s ages. Fast forward to today, the ones that understand the fears of our 60s. With them we will share all the good things as well as the bad things that lie ahead.
Those are the treasured friends that are in it until the end. Or, at least that is our hope.
How do we embrace our friendships, at this stage in our life?
Some of us are lucky enough to have a partner or spouse as our friend. But that doesn’t mean that he or she is all that we need. We can’t make the mistake of not making time for our other friends.
Our gift of friendship commits us to carving out time for them. Make a date (virtual, phone, or when possible, live), put it on your calendar, and don’t make excuses. Make it a priority. Your friendships deserve that.
We are all human, and every single one of us has a flaw that may get on peoples’ nerves. I know it’s probably something you don’t want to think about, but it’s true.
We may talk about our kids too much, we may obsess over our exercise or our body, our aches and pains, or something that probably annoys someone. Take a break, if you need to. But, always, always, circle back around and keep in touch. Text or call. Let them know that you are not gone for good.
Take a weekend and hit the road with your girlfriends. You’ll know when the time is right. Those kinds of trips create memories to carry us through the times ahead, and that we’ll need to draw from, when our days are filled with dark clouds.
Unless you absolutely know that your religious or political views are similar, stay away from those conversations. No one wants to be preached to or made to feel that they are being rallied to change their beliefs.
Be considerate of the differences in your financial means. Not all of your friends may have the luxury of spending money on clothes, vacations, or ‘things’. It can come across as bragging, not sharing. So, be considerate of all situations where money could be an issue.
Don’t be a know-it-all. Give your friends a chance to talk, and be an active listener. They need to shine on their own, too.
Smile and be open to new friends. Network with people who have the same interest as you. As you grow older, possibly after retirement, your hobbies and interests evolve and change.
Look for groups that congregate like-minded people. Open the door and your heart to new friends. You can never have too many.
Forgiveness is the key to retaining friends. Somewhere along this road, one of your friends may have misstepped, hurled an insult, hurt your feelings. Let. It. Go. Life is simply utterly too short. If you want to remain friends, reach out.
With the ease that social media provides these days, staying connected should not be an issue. Period.
Don’t be possessive of your friends. You can never have enough – and they can’t either. A garden is filled with many flowers, and a good friend realizes that many colorful souls can and should be in our lives.
A post on my Moonflower Blooms blog describes the feelings that I have for my family and friends. It is the perfect representation of Dorothy’s walk to Oz, implementing the scene where the yellow brick road is filled with fields of flowers.
She had her friends by her side, arm in arm, their journey filled with the heart of friendship and the bravery to meet the challenges ahead.
This is how I intend to live my life moving forward. How about you?
Who shares your life journey with you? What could you do to be a better friend? When was the last time you sent a personal message to an old friend? What keeps you from reconnecting? Is there someone you need to forgive? Please share your friendship story with our community.