In the immortal words of Katie Curtin Sullivan to a lonely little girl:
“Peggy, If you want to have friends, be a friend.”
(a plaintive) How?
“Ask people about themselves. Be curious. Pay attention. Many people are interesting.”
My 40’s and 50’s were good training for one of the major challenges of the later decades in life. (Important to remember that for most of human existence the 40’s and 50’s were the later decades and would be reached by very few.) Divorce and the loss of friends. HIV/AIDS and the loss of friends. Normal life and the loss of friends. How to reach out for new friends when what one really wants are the ones who are gone! Important to note that, for me, this also includes 4-legged friends.
Fast forward to my 70’s. Starting over in Milwaukee has been a practicum in making new friends. Sometimes it’s hard to push myself out the front door. Sometimes it’s hard to push my heart to open; my mind to take an interest. I WANT THE ONES WHO ARE GONE!
And then I ask — Why bother? Other people are so much work. (Like I’m not…) I look around at my nest and see that I have everything I need to enjoy my solitude. I can get lost in remembering the faces of those who are gone; remembering… And then a little voice says Danger! Danger! Will Robinson! I shout back—“I am happy being alone with my memories and books and knitting and Missy and Netflix. I am. I am.” I hear that voice again: Danger! Danger! Will Robinson! And that voice is wise.
Here is more of the wisdom that gets me out the front door.
“A friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face.” ~ Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” `~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
“When I first met you, I honestly didn’t know you were gonna be this important to me” ~ Swapna Rajput
“She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.” ~ Toni Morrison Beloved
“When I find myself filling with rage over the loss of a beloved, I try as soon as possible to remember that my concerns and questions should be focused on what I learned or what I have yet to learn from my departed love. What legacy was left which can help me in the art of living a good life?
Did I learn to be kinder,
To be more patient,
And more generous,
More ready to laugh,
And more easy to accept honest tears?
If I accept those legacies of my departed beloveds, I am able to say, Thank You to them for their love and Thank You to God for their lives.” ~ Maya Angelou Letter to My Daughter
“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson