Aug 28 2008

On Friendship

Category: friendshipamuzikman @ 11:26 pm

I suppose it is a sign of getting older when one starts counting time in decades rather than years. And though we remain a largely youth-oriented culture I am getting old enough to realize how foolish young people are in their frequent disregard of the perspective available to them by those who have taken a few more laps around the sun. I was guilty of it as a youth and I hear my kids making comments that reflect the same silliness. They truly believe the internet, cell phones, video games and iPods did something to fundamentally change human nature. The landscape has indeed changed but the wild adventure through adolescence remains fundamentally the same E ticket ride (kids – look it up), dealing with the same struggles common to all who would enter adulthood.

One thing I have learned (and I wish I had realized a lot sooner) is how rare and precious are true friends. In college (a few decades ago), I could count my friends by the fist-full. But tested by time very few remain. And those few who do remain are not store-bought, just-add-water-and-stir, we-once-took-a-class-together friendships. No, I’m talking about life-long, self-sacrificing, shirt-off-your-back, storied, battle-tested, in-the-trenches friendships that have survived everything life could throw at them. No one I know has a surplus of those!

There are most certainly plenty of good reasons for this. Marriage, career, raising a family, moving, etc. all contribute to a shift in priorities and a necessary move into new seasons of life. The time a college-age student can spend hanging out with buddies is just no longer available when adult life intrudes. But there are those exceptions who manage to do whatever it takes to remain close. There are those few who will continue to go the extra mile or two to maintain a close friendship. And as the clock keeps ticking and the years fall away like so many autumn leaves, those true and close and dear friends become more rare than a Cubs World Series ring and more valuable than words can express.

Young people take friendships for granted. I wish they wouldn’t. But you really can’t explain to a young person that with age comes a certain melancholy, almost a loneliness. How sad it must be for those who have neglected to nurture those few real friends. They only get harder to find as the years fly by.

So here’s to you and a heart-felt “hail fellow well met”, Cody, Ernie, and Tim. True friends all. The rarest kind.

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