I had the rare opportunity to talk with a good friend of mine yesterday afternoon for nearly an hour. Our connection wasn’t all that great, but we were mostly able to understand one another without too many repeats or dropped calls. I often wonder, in our world of instant social gratification, has our ability to communicate clearly and compassionately as human beings increased or decreased? We definitely seem to be much better and more adept with our thumbs than any other species on this planet, but I highly doubt that our thumbs evolved as they did in order to press small buttons to write highly abbreviated small sentences to one another in what is rapidly starting to resemble some sort of military code. I have realized as a teacher, that were I to appropriate someone’s thumb writing device I would not be able to decipher what was written on the screen of this highly advanced communication based gadget that is currently linked to several satellites, thereby embarrassing myself in front of an entire room full of children who can telepathically detect the slightest hesitation in an adult and turn it into their advantage instantaneously.

All that is neither here nor there within the scope of what I wanted to write – I wonder why my editors get so frustrated? What I really wanted to write about is friendship. In this very world of instant communication, facebook, Skype, email, texting, you tube and the thousands of ways that we can connect, how many friends do you really have? Five thousand? Isn’t that the cutoff for facebook these days? You can’t have more than five thousand “friends?”

I can count the number of friends that I have on one hand. I think my criterion is a bit different to qualify me as a friend. The friends that I have will and have pulled me out of a ditch on a snowy night. The friends that I have will bail me out of jail, if they believe that I deserve it and they will have the presence of mind and know me well enough to make that determination and choose to leave my ass there if it is so fitting. The friends that I have will help me split wood for my wood stoves when I’m sick or unable to do so. They will babysit without being asked. I can complain to them about relationships, addictions, responsibilities at work and my family without fear of judgment or retribution. I don’t have to worry about my friends trying to steal my wife or acting inappropriately in front of her or my son. My circle of friends extends into my family, but is not inclusive to them. In fact, I have friends who could be anywhere in the world right now.

My therapist has on numerous occasions made it very clear that she does not approve that I don’t have a circle of so-called friends nearby that I can run to every time that I want to talk to someone or have a bad thought or dream. I do have a circle of friends, and they exist within a realm in which I can reach at any time. If needs be, I can find them, each and every one. I’d like to hope they can find me, too, ready at any moment to help, listen, care and hopefully give meaningful advice. You know what the best thing is? My very best friend is almost always at arm’s length, and kisses me goodnight every single night. So, here’s to friends. Let’s cherish them and not take them for granted, no matter where they may roam or how long it’s been since you’ve heard from them. What adventures they must be having!

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