Tuesday, October 12, 2010

With Friends Like These...

Back from a well deserved and desperately needed vacation so I figured I'd get back into things slowly with a fairly positive blog. Don't worry I've got plenty of pent up frustration you'll be able to share with me real soon

I've written time and again about friends and friendship as it is a very important subject to me (and should be to everyone). I think for those of us who fall into the ever expanding category of single, never married, no kids, friends are a far bigger part of your life then it is to those who are married and/or have kids. Outside of family (which can and hopefully are also friends) friends are the most important thing in your life. Old friends, new friends, red friends, blue friends...sorry, Seussian slip there...work friends, etc. Simply put without friends life is pretty incomplete. Now, I've gotten down on myself and on my friends a lot in recent years for often petty reasons but every single time, when the chips are down or when I need them most I realize I have the best friends in the world. I'm going to list a few recent examples of what great friends I (and my family have).

1) My dad has been sick for a while now but recently things were starting to look bad. He was losing the psychological end of the fight as much as the physical battle. Well a funny thing happened. As much as he said he didn't want to see anyone, friends showed up in bunches. His friends, my mother's friends, mine and my sisters friends, enough people to keep him from getting down and feeling sorry for himself. Mostly it was his best friend who, whether he is home or in the hospital, spends 4-5 hours every Wednesday with him. Sometimes they watch TV, sometimes they talk and sometimes they both just sit there but regardless, he is always there. Add to that the huge outpouring of well-wishes from friends of myself and my sisters it has been an amazing thing to behold. And you know what else? His situation has improved dramatically. Coincidence? Maybe. But coincidence or not you can't deny the power of friendship

2) I know some will find this hard to believe and it likely doesn't apply to everyone, but vacations for the single and unattached can be tricky. Usually you can only take vacations with those in a similar situation (tho not always). For this reason I waited even longer then usual to plan out my vacation time and was getting really worn to a frazzle with work and life. Well, 2 friends (one a relative as well as a friend) stepped up huge and I ended up spending time in 2 places I hadn't been to in years (decades in one case) and had the time of my life. Seriously. It was the cure for what ailed me at this point in my life. Both trips were at the same time busy, funny, and relaxing and were just about perfect from my standpoint. Oh, and the one constant I have to still look forward to is my guy trip we take every fall which is usually 3 days of non-stop laughter with 3 of the best friends a guy could ask for. I feel lucky to have friends I can still get away with and feel 100% comfortable and not like a 3rd, 5th, or 7th wheel with. The final result was a far more relaxed, far less stressed Rich O which is a good thing

3) My final example would be A Night Out With Rich O (ANOWRO). What is ANOWRO you ask? Well, it was a crazy idea that worked out to be something special (at least in my opinion). Here's the basic genesis of it; With the onset of social network popularity amongst those of us in in 40's as opposed to those in high school or college I've started catching up with people I frankly lost touch with. It happens. What happens next is you try and get together with groups which usually has a limited degree of success for multiple reasons most of which involve synchronizing schedules. So I asked myself, Self, when was the last time a plan of this magnitude came together? The answer-my 40th birthday party and my high school reunion. Both were well organized and planned and people knew about them months in advance. The results were people were able to mark it on their calendar and arrange for baby sitters etc. Hmmm, if only there was a big event to plan around. Then it struck me! Let's make up an event! So, the first thought was Richapalooza and to get a small function room. OK, that was wicked self-indulgent even for me and the concept of a room or hall sounded too much like throwing a party for myself. Then it came to me like a bolt of lightning- I'll just tell everyone where I'd be and what time I'd be there. Come if you want, don't if you don't and called it A Night Out With Rich O! The event was promoted through Facebook and Evite about 3 months ahead of time. Well, the long and short of it is people showed up. Lot's of them. There were a few unexpected obstacles but to a person everyone who showed up told me they had fun. It ranged from friends from grade school to high school, college to current, friends I've known for decades to ones I've known for months. We laughed and smiled and caught up and drank. My face hurt from smiling so much (or maybe I did a face plant on the walk home). To me it was better then my reunion or 40th birthday as it really was all about MY friends and getting them all together in one place at the same time. I don't know if I can ever capture lightning in a bottle like that again but I'm willing to try

Many influences make us who we are as people. Family, environment, relationships, school, work, and friends. Of all these friends may be the most important as you choose who you are fiends with or who you remain friends with while many other influences you are born into or are thrust upon you. The people we surround ourselves with make up the very fabric of our lives. Every one of my friends, from the ones I see weekly to the ones I hardly see but I know are there when I need them, are a big part of my life and hope they always will be. I think the great American playwright Tennessee Williams put it best

“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”

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