Ripples #1228: Old Friends


The best mirror is an old friend.
-George Herbert, shared by Michelle in Springfield, IL


I argue that the most powerful thing you can do to add healthy years is to curate your immediate social network. In general, you want friends with whom you can have a meaningful conversation. You can call them on a bad day and they will care. Your group of friends are better than any drug or anti-aging supplement, and will do more for you than just about anything.
-Dan Buettner, shared via NYT’s Guide, “How to Be a Better Friend”


A while back I stumbled upon a song called, “Old Friends,” by Ben Rector.  It’s a lightly upbeat tune about the unique power of childhood friendships. I fell in love with its sweet, nostalgic take just how important and how precious those connections really are.

It jumpstarted some reminiscing about the relationships I had in my younger days, and soon I was jotting down a list of the many friendships from the way, way back times. I eventually wrote out a long, rambly Facebook post  (you can access it easily even if you’re not on Facebook, but just a head’s up: it includes both lighter and heavier stuff).

What began as a very private and very personal reflection of the impact these early friendships had on my life quickly transformed into a a very public and very social celebration of old friends. Lots of mini-reunions happened right on the thread, and several people shared similar attempts they’ve made at reconnecting with old friends.

Why do we do stuff like this? At first glance, it seems like the purpose is to reach out and connect with others, to say the things that sometimes go unsaid…anything from a light HEY THERE OLD FRIEND, to the deeper messages: thank you, I’m sorry, I miss you, I love you, etc. The reaching out part makes sense to me AND I suspect it’s also about reaching in, too.

Michelle, who I know from my summer camp days (a hearty HEAP WAH to her and so many old friends from Camp Ondessonk), posted to the thread with the quote featured as today’s Pebble. It helped me understand why this “reflection turned reunion” was so powerful: it gave me a chance to reflect on who I was back then and who I’ve become in the decades since.

As you finish reading what I fear has become a long and rambly Ponder about the long and rambly Facebook post, I hope it will inspire you to reach out to a few old friends, or at least reach in to think about how they helped you become the person you are today.

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, this experiment wasn’t all warm and fuzzy! It was difficult to revisit some of the hard stuff that inevitably makes up a full life, and I uncovered some unprocessed grief as I thought about connections that are no longer in my life. My dear old friend Pidge helped me sort through the complicated mix of emotions that swirled in the hours and days afterwards. She suggested I might be experiencing what Brenè Brown calls a vulnerability hangover  which made a lot of sense to me.

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