Here are some sentences about “friends” you have heard or maybe even spoken many times. He’s a friend of mine. She’s a close friend. He’s my best friend. We have mutual friends. He was a friend in high school. She was a friend in college. They were great friends of ours before we got divorced. He’s an old friend. We’ve become close friends.
You see all those little differences? You know what they mean. The word “friend” is a loose word we use for most of the people we know who we have some regard for. If you have been in the same home-town all your life, you probably are still hanging with your school friends. That’s cool…they are usually your best friends for life. But the hard-to-find friends are the ones in a new town, a new job or a new relationship.
Recently (this week) I’ve had conversations with people from all walks of life who are lonely for a friend. My wife and I met a 64 year old lady who was widowed a year ago and has no friends. She doesn’t know what to do to find a friend. A cousin of mine, 28 years old, would like to find a good friend or two. She’s not sure where to start. Another guy that provides a service to me let me know he doesn’t have time for friends but misses them.
It’s a funny topic, isn’t it? But maybe you should start listing your friends on your mental tablet…no not your Facebook friends…they don’t count unless you are dining with them, drinking with them, or talking face to face with them. That’s your friends, maybe your good friends…maybe your best friends.
I imagine to be labeled “best friend” would mean someone who accepts you, even though they really know you and you can tell them anything…and you usually do. That’s a best friend. I was asked for advice about finding friends, like I was some kind of expert, and I think I did offer some wise advice.(one of the very few things that getting older provides…a wise look backward) I’ve also had the perspective of living in five different cities over 30 years.
I did the mental tablet thing of my friends. In each new city it was important to me to “make friends.” I did. The one consistent strategy I used, and I wasn’t sure it would make new friends, was to get involved and volunteer for something I was interested in. There are so many things to learn and do in life and not much time, so I like to learn and do as many things as possible. To do a new thing requires some “stretching.” (mentally and physically) One must take a chance, be brave and jump in feet first.
When I was a new guy in Newport Beach, I decided to take some golf lessons and join the Newport Beach Men’s Club. That’s not a hard stretch. In just a few years I became the Tournament Director and Newsletter Editor for the next eight years. I developed a “first-name” relationship with 110 guys and some of them became good friends. Some of those good friends invited me to join the Elks Club and guess what; I met more guys who became good friends.
My career took me north to the Bay area; I knew nobody. I had always wanted to act since I was Huckleberry Finn at 12 years old, so I went to a cold reading audition for the prestigious “Coastal Repertory Theatre.” I was nervous as a whore in church, but I got a nice role in “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and made a bunch of new friends. Yes, they were flaky theatre folks, but I loved them.
I moved to the Central Valley a dozen years ago because I wanted to make my best friend my wife (she still is my best friend), but I didn’t have any friends here. I always wanted to write; joined the Writers of Kern, a branch of the California Writers Club, and “voila” I have made more new friends. I joined a local musical organization and now I’m on the board and made more friends.
Stretch and Volunteer. IT WORKS!