"Old Friends"

November 17, 2013  •  Leave a Comment
Mountain and Lake - SpringMountain and Lake - Spring So begins a song with that name by Simon and Garfunkel. This week's blog is one of personal reflection, specifically, the value I place on friendship. I mean true friendship, not the social kind you may have at the local brew pub. True friends --- those who have been with you in good times and bad, those who have known you for years, those who know you as you really are, and still love you anyway. Yes, love. Because I believe true friendship is a form of love (not always, or necessarily physical) that borders on the metaphysical. It cannot be bought, it can only be freely given by another. More importantly, it cannot be codependent or manipulative. And if the bonds of friendship are broken, they are either extremely difficult or impossible to repair. So along these lines, my reflections begin.
 
It's been a long time since I walked the halls of First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach. When I graduated, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no digital cameras, no internet, no cell phones, and a whole lot of other "no's" which I can't remember at this moment. The military draft was still in use (my draft number was 339) and the Vietnam War was in full swing. Computers were huge things that took up entire rooms, IBM punched cards were the only means of input, and engineering students (like me) used slide rules in college.
 
As I grew older and surrendered the things of my youth, I am grateful for, and now appreciate more than ever, those who were my friend during my high school years. To say that I was "cool" when I was in high school would not only be a gross overstatement, but also an outright lie. I was like any other teenager trying to figure things out in my own world, and trying to come to terms with who I was and how I related to others. When I graduated there was no social media, and for that reason I lost track of my high school friends, including my best friend.
 
Fast forward. Then came the internet, cell phones, search engines, and social media. One day, on a whim, I googled my best friend from high school. I called, he answered, and we spoke as if we had spoken only yesterday. It was as if the lapse of many years had never occurred. So after more than 40 years, he is still my best friend.
 
Once I was on Facebook, the sky was the limit. People to whom I had not spoken for years were now accessible if they decided to "friend" me. I reconnected with many members of my high school class and I feel we are closer now than at any other point in our lives. And that is something I often contemplate. Sharing a bond with people you have known more than four decades is not something you can describe with words, it can only be experienced. So it is in this experience that I find permanence in a world where friendships and relationships wax and wane like the moon. Suffice it to say that I am not a recluse, nor do I consider only those to whom I have known for many years to be a friend. I have made many friends as of late, some of which I consider to be true friends. Nevertheless, the bonds to those whom I have known over half my life are not the same as those to whom I've known more recently. I am not saying the bonds are not equal, nor any less important or valuable; but I am saying they are different. It's like apples and oranges. You can like both with equal fervor, but they are nevertheless, different. And it is in that difference that I find permanence.
 
After reading this week's blog, most of you will be able to estimate my age.  At this point in my life, I realize the value of true friendship and I wanted to share that with you. One thing I also firmly believe, two people have to be best friends, true friends, before the relationship can advance any further. Enough said.
 
Ending on a lighter note, I still have my slide rule from college; I have had it for over half my life. Call me sentimental. But it has been with me during some tough times, like chemistry and thermodynamics exams. So is it possible to bond with an object? Maybe so.
 
Until next time,
Paul
 

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