From the editor: We all need connection
I spoke Tuesday morning with a fellow about whom I’ll write in the coming days, and if this bit makes it in, as I think it might, you’ll have to forgive me for the “spoilers” in this column.
This guy has a group of friends that he’s super close with. And first of all, let’s hear it for adult friends, right? So hard to make, so hard to keep. I have so much respect and appreciation for men and women who have real, true friends — people they do things with and plan things around and check up on and take care of. It’s the best. It’s unfortunately rare.
So anyway, this man, who’s getting up there in years, tells me that he and these other guys get together all the time. Every day, in this case, but I think the regularity is what matters for most of us. And they just laugh and talk and remember things and make fun of one another and check on each other when they don’t show.
“It’s a reason to get out of bed in the morning,” he said.
It’s clearly so much more than that.
When I brought my family here, my nine-year-old daughter, who is also my oldest, was not super thrilled to leave Greeley. We’d only been there a little while as it was, but she’d made great friends and felt connected. She felt like she had a place. Going into fourth grade in a new town — after already starting second grade in a new town not that long ago — did not excite her. And that’s putting things mildly, frankly.
It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy when you get nervous about meeting people or people liking you, of course, but it sure seemed to start out the way she was expecting. My poor sweet daughter, my brilliant, kind, hilarious, talented daughter, felt like nobody wanted her there. She felt like nobody cared that she was there. She felt alone.
It was heartbreaking, those first few days of school. She’d come home and just… let’s just say it wasn’t a happy time.
Then on Day 4 of school, she made a friend.
And oh how things changed. That feeling of mattering to someone returned. That feeling of someone wanting you there, of someone caring if you existed, of someone looking out for you — it was back. And she lit up like a sunflower. It warmed my father’s heart.
Nothing’s easy. Life isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s better when it’s not easy, I’d contend. But it’s so, so much harder when we feel like we have to do it alone.
Nobody should have to be alone. We’re social creatures by biology and by design. We’re supposed to have friends, loved ones, families. Not everybody can have all of that, but everybody deserves at the very least a bit of it.
I have a couple of best friends from college, and, of course, my darling wife, with whom I share my life and my love. I can’t overstate how grateful I am for them. Tuesday morning I was messaging with one of my friends for the first time in a handful of days — once upon a time we were caught up in a running dialog at all times of every day, more recently it’s gotten closer to once a week, sometimes longer — and my dear friend pointed out with some regret that he was sorry he hadn’t been making as much effort to be a good friend lately and that he wanted very much to step that effort up.
Of course, I said, it takes two, and I need to do the same. But much more importantly I pointed out my very sincere belief, that the beauty of our friendship and brotherhood is that no matter how busy we get or how distant we become, nothing can stand in the way of our ongoing brotherhood.
He agreed. It meant as much to him to hear me say that as it meant to me to be able to say it.
I can’t tell you what joy and peace that brings me. I’m not bragging, I’m simply pointing out how valuable true friendship is. Whether it’s a reason to get into your day or a light in a dark new world or a constant in an ever-more-occupied life, it’s what keeps many of us going.
Here’s to friends, to family, and loved ones. May they ever get us out of bed.
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On a summer morning in southern Idaho, the day breaks early, before 6 a.m. The air is stale, never fully cooled from the heat of the day before.