A flurry of friends occupy my thoughts this morning. Yesterday, Jim and Vicki, good friends of mine since around 1997, made a little detour on their way from Alexandria, Virginia to Dallas to have lunch with us. This afternoon, if circumstances fall into place as I expect, we will meet John and Lorri for dinner or drinks as they make their way from Oklahoma City to Little Rock on a segment of their long, meandering trip back home to the east coast, a trip that has taken them from Boston to Sedona and places in between. And I am concerned about my good friends Lana and Melvin, who recently moved from Fort Smith to Memphis. Their historical responsiveness to communications has diminished of late, giving me cause for concern. And Patty and Terry are on my mind, as they camp in Big Bend and beyond, making their way west to Arizona during a month-long journey to unwind and visit family and friends. While friends are on my mind, I wonder how my Dallas friends, Steve and Ed, are getting along? This mental focus on friendships broadens—or is it that it narrows?—as I sit here. Ducky and Becky and Kim come to mind. People whose company I have grown to appreciate and regularly seek out. And there is a cluster of others to whom I’ve grown attached through church; they, too, enter my thoughts. Though I cannot claim to be extremely close to all of them, all of them matter to me. All of them add depth to my life’s experience. I call some of them soul-mates. I do not know whether that sense of intense, close connection is reciprocated, but I do not know whether that matters. Every person must determine for himself (or herself) who serves as part of a framework on which ones ego is supported. And, of course, there is Colleen. A magnificently close friend and confidante and life-force and powerful source and recipient of love.
As my mind circles around the idea of friendships, its scope broadens to relationships in general. Connections to people whose presence is intertwined with my life in one way or another. Though I sometimes think of myself as something of a loner, in reality I value having connections with others. More than valuing them, I need them. Without human connections, I suspect my mind would shrivel like an apple left in the intense heat of unceasing sunlight. It would dry up and eventually turn to dust. Human interactions are the lubricants that keep our minds flexible and malleable and open to new ideas. If we close our minds to new ideas, we decay. I have seen it. I have experienced it from time to time. Certainty does that. It seals pathways to expansive thinking. Only when our minds are open to challenges to what and how we think are we able to grow and evolve and become more capable of surviving the onslaught of…something I cannot define. But it’s something that can ruin us if we let it. We must be willing to change. Become someone new. Over and over and over again. I suppose that is how and why we make new friends. But the core of who we are is how and why we maintain and strengthen those powerful connections that take the form of long-time friendships.
Okay. I have expressed this odd philosophizing quite enough. I have to ready myself for a visit with a doctor in Little Rock. I hope she informs me that my two MRIs reveal something easily correctable; something that will enable her to magically make my shoulder and neck and joint pain disappear. I have learned to keep breathing. Not holding my breath. Not for a second.