I’m feeling very blessed these days with friends, and with the time I’ve been able to have with them recently. Two separate times this summer, I was able to have a combined few weeks in the Chicago area where I grew up and still have several good friends. I then drove through the southwest and visited more friends on the way. As I write this, I am flying back from North Carolina where I went golfing with a group of friends, some from Chicago, some from California, and just last night was able to spend the evening visiting another good friend from my Berkeley days who lives in the Chapel Hill area of North Carolina with his family.
I think having the time to develop and maintain friendships is one of the greatest benefits to having remained unmarried in my life. While I do yet hope to manifest a family of my own, I haven’t lost sight of the richness in my life that my friends provide. While I may enjoy golf at times, the only reason I would consider a goof trip of this nature (we just completed 7 rounds in 5 days!!!) would be because of all the fun and laughs that I have with the people I golf with. Funny, I just noticed that typo in the last sentence where I called it a “goof trip” rather than a “golf trip.” Perhaps that is a more apt name. Not only did I golf more in those 5 days than I have in the past 2 years, but I also laughed more deep tears-in-my-eyes belly-laughs than I have in a long, long time. Friends truly provide that for me and I deeply value that.
I noticed clearly on this trip that I have multiple aspects to my personality. One is a type which loves to have a good time and laugh and have a couple of beers yucking it up with my boys, and another is much more quiet and simple. On our final round of golf, when I was already significantly worn out from so much golf, I was teamed up with the two Johns on the trip. On about the 4th hole, it was so peaceful in the early morning natural beauty of the course (Pinehurst #4) that I requested that we play a hole in silence. They agreed and the experience, at least to me, was sublime. Golfing with friends can be a somewhat raucous affair with lots of teasing and whooping it up, but on this hole we just floated through, noticing the abundance of birds chirping and the beauty of the environs. In the silence, it was easy and obvious for me to notice the superego within me as well whose voice would rise up voicing dismay over an errant shot. It’s obvious to me that without quiet, it can be difficult to cultivate much depth of self awareness, as chatter tends to overwhelm the awareness of experience.. When one of the John’s birdied the hole with a long putt (and I wouldn’t be surprised if our silence helped that to happen) he gave a fist pump, but other than that, there was just silence. It was the only hole we played that way, but for me it set an internal tone which carried me through to my best (an 84) and most enjoyable round of the trip. Enjoyable, not only because of the score, but because of a very present sense of myself being there within the round of golf.
After our golf group departed, I moved on to Chapel Hill where it was great to see my friend Steve and, his wife Michelle. They are just plain good people with a 14 year old son that has such an obvious and endearing kindness and sweetness about him. Since they moved to North Carolina 14 years ago, I’ve only seen Steve a couple of times, but we’ve managed to stay in touch. The evening before my arrival they had just celebrated 30 years since their first date, and their demeanor with each other is a testament to how commitment and communication can sustain an unlikely couple (he a settled and thoughtful man from South Dakota and she a more energetic –Michelle, I’ll leave it to you to insert your own self-descriptive euphemism in here — from New York) and allow their love for each other, which was very prevalent, to prevail.
I’m not fully certain why, but my life has been blessed with many friends, and they are such good people too. I may not have everything that I may want in my life, but there is no shortage of blessedness, friendships, love and laughs.