Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Wide Open Door of Friendship

A few weeks ago I made a public declaration that I wished for more "depth" within the conversations in my world. I felt I was living in a superficial world and I was depleted by having to try so hard to sustain a conversation. Mere days after that blog post, the depth I was looking for was everywhere.

I have been inundated with attention due to my birthday this past week which has spurred on a great deal of contact with those who touch my world. It has been a little bit incredible because the depth of the conversations and visits I have had has been a gift.

I have a few friends that I see once or twice a  year. We always part ways promising to get together more often but life happens and the next thing we know, we are celebrating one or the other or both of our birthdays with the hope of "doing this more often" during the (next) following year.

Each time we get together for that annual birthday supper, I quietly wonder "Are they just doing this to be polite?" "Have we drifted apart and out of each other's lives to hold a conversation?" Even friends I see more often than that get busy and I always fear the day when we may realize we don't connect on the same level that we once did.

Then it happens. We get together and share nourishment and "coffee" (or a coffee substitute) and the words flow effortlessly. The next thing I know, three or four hours have passed and it has felt like the blink of an eye.

These conversations are real and deep and two-sided. Each and every time I sat down with a friend, I heard myself monologuing and I knew it had to stop. Then before I knew it, it was my friend's turn to take the role of being front and centre within our conversation. It worked both ways. I could feel the act of being listened to and I know I was captivated as I listened to the other end of this conversation.

Our lives are so multifaceted and diverse that I found a parallel existence within each and every conversation I had. One of my friends has a son a year younger than me and each of them were going through a similar "crisis" or time of great challenge at the same time this past spring. And the very day we spoke, they had an almost identical out-of-school experience. My friend looked me in the eye and said, "How do you handle this?" "What are you going to do?" and I answered honestly and in real time. Because that very conversation awaited me the moment I got home. Even though our sons are practically the same age, this is her oldest son. This is my third and youngest son. I spoke from a place of making many errors along the way of parenting. The timing of our annual supper was eerily impeccable. There was no one else I would have rather been talking to that evening and the feeling felt reciprocated.

The stories and relate-able tales I have to tell are long and varied and specific to the friend who sat before me. Each one of us opened up and told our story honestly and without filter. Our conversations were filled with a sense of trusting the other guy with your whole self. There were no holds barred. We were real with each other and the conversations took off and became meaningful, deep and they made my knees shake.

I am absolutely blessed with friendships which transcend "Facebook" and virtual and superficiality. I may not see them often or talk like a wide open book each time our paths cross but I think we both know the door is always open.

I wished for it and it came. "If you open the door to friendship, they will walk through and enter." The key word is "open". No holds barred. Trust, honesty, vulnerability and openness are good ingredients to add to a conversation you want to go below the surface.

My friends, you are such a big part of me. Even in your absence, knowing our next conversation will pick up where we last left off is all I need. I hope you feel the same way.

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