Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Eternal Friendship

While purging 22 years of stuff from our house I came across a tiny note from someone who’d been a close friend in childhood. It was addressed “Hello, my Eternal Friend.” I’ve not seen this friend, nor have we directly communicated, in more than 30 years. It got me to thinking about really enduring friendships.

What I’ve come up with is duration, distance, and durability. The three “D’s” of friendship. There were some very nice demonstrations of all three for Mrs. bingo and me this weekend.

Distance is at once the easier and trickier of the three. Once upon a time distance was almost always a deal-breaker, at least if it was applied for too very long. Air travel was not accessible to most, and all of our electronic connections were just predictions on the pages of a science fiction novel. No email, texting, or PM…folks kept in touch via what we now call snail mail and hard line long-distance phone calls. The phone calls were brutally expensive (anyone remember waiting until 7:00 PM on Sunday when the rates when down to call home?), which turned some friendship into something called pen pals. You wrote on a piece of paper with something called a pen, put it in the envelope which then went in something called a mailbox, and then you waited/hoped a letter would return. Distance was a big friendship killer back in the day.

Now? Not so much. Duration is the goal, and durability is the barrier. How durable, how resilient is your friendship? Can it withstand the challenges and demands presented by our always-on communication? Indeed, are our myriad ways of “connecting” over whatever distance exists sufficient to nurture a friendship for the ages? How about age, infirmity, different levels of success or diverging life goals? New interests that may not be shared? What are the characteristics of those truly eternal friendships that make them so?

Well, judging by our experiences this weekend there are probably a couple of other “D’s” that apply. Desire and Delight. How much do both parties want the friendship to endure, and how delighted are they when they actually connect, really connect, face to face, no matter how old the friendships might be?

My Dad was visited yesterday by friends who’ve been around for 40 years. It’s kinda tough to see Dad right now, but there they were. The delight in the room was palpable; old friends act like that when they are together. Mrs. bingo and I had our own delight in the evening when we dined with a 40 year friend of my own (30 years for Beth), brought together by mutual desire, delighted by the lack of distance our visit created. That particular friendship is still durable enough to withstand a glass of red wine spectacularly spilled on a white shirt five minutes into dinner!

So how about my “Eternal Friend” from childhood? Is the friendship still there, a tiny ember burning beneath the cold ashes of time? Ah, we were so young. We had no concept of what “eternal” really meant. We, certainly I, had no idea what it would take to carry a friendship for an eternity, regardless of how much we might have wanted it to continue.

Sometimes friendships just slip away, like my “Eternal Friend”. Those that don’t end up being just a little bit more of everything by dint of duration. They are durable. They’ve passed the test of time. We don’t get many of these very special friendships, but when we do get one, or get the chance to forge a new one, we have every right to be delighted by every little part of whatever makes that friendship work. Like my Dad and the couple who’ve been his friends for 40 years, or my friend Bob (and his lovely Kathy).

You can never have enough friends, or work hard enough to keep ‘em, especially if they’ve truly been around for an eternity.

 

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