Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


RT Episode 77  Friends

My friend John and I use to go biking at least a couple times a week after work. We would ride swerving from side to side. Explore new trails and streets and usually end up at an ice cream shop or coffee shop. We went for fun rides, not serious, hard core rides. He made me laugh. He was the funniest guy I ever knew. We joined a health club together; lifted weights, played racket ball, or just hung out and BS’d. We’d go to lunch. Get in trouble at work. Sometimes rescue teachers or students whom we thought had been mistreated by someone – anyone; other teachers or administrators. We would skip out on required teacher workshops and make light of whatever we thought deserved it. When the administration decided that teachers would not be excused to go see the Pope when he visited Anchorage , we cheated and went anyway. That’s what I call a friend. Two people, both going in the same direction – at least some of the time. We really were quite different people. I think that’s why we got along so well. We complimented each other. I’m not sure who was the bad guy and who was the good guy.  

This is retirement talk. I’m Del Lowery

I’m sure we all have those moments when we think we don’t have any real good friends, or not enough of them anyway. Friends have a way of coming and going. Like my friend John. We haven’t seen each other since we both retired over twenty years ago. He now lives in Panama City , Florida ; a long way from where we settled. I miss him.

Recently I was advised to join Facebook. I was told it would really help me gain listeners to this podcast. I joined. Then I started getting emails telling me that so-and-so wanted to be my friend. I felt embarrassed, cheap, shoddy, and abused. Friends always meant more to me that someone mailing me their name and then assuming I was their friend. What is that? I did know these people. Their names were in my computer address book, but – friends? I don’t think so. I mean, some of them, yes, but most were people I would call an acquaintance, someone with whom I had done business, or met in a meeting or group. This casual reference and procurement of “friends” offended my sense of the true value of real friends. I tried to drop my subscription to Facebook. It isn’t easy. I did manage to “inactivate” my account – whatever that means. At least I don’t get any more invitations to be “friends”. And I hope no one is getting invitations from me to “be my friend”.  My podcast will just have to find another way.

“He who has many friends, has no friends”. I think Aristotle said that. That idea came from some college class in the far, far distant past.  Life experience has supported the truth of it. It seems like developing friendship requires a certain amount of time. Duration, not intensity, is necessary. That’s why it is so much fun to run into an ol’ friend. You have so much history that it is very easy to just take up right where you left off many years ago.

What I really wanted to talk about was how to get friends when one is a bit short.  I wish there was a quick and easy way, and perhaps there is, but I don’t know what it might be. When my wife and I consider our immediate friends, or friends at the moment, people with whom we feel this strong connection and trade dinner invitations we discovered this history of how we met: Amnesty International Meetings, collecting signatures for a ballot issue, two former students – one is a student I had thirty years ago and the other is a student I had in class perhaps twenty years ago. Another friend is someone I met through working as a volunteer with the parks department. Another I met while volunteering at a radio station. Another I met through playing the classical guitar. Another I met while running for political office. He was a big help in a lost cause. These are friends that have recently been to our house for dinner – more than once. That seems like a pretty long list. I’m surprised. Of course, there are many other folks that we know but have somehow not been dinner companions on multiple occasions. I’m trying to be honest.

Most were met through volunteer organizations or efforts in which we participated. Maybe that is the answer to finding friends: volunteering. I guess that is a pretty good deal. You not only get to join with others in some sort of community effort, but you get a friend out of the deal.

Of course, it should be said that some people remain friends all of our lives. They may live far away; we may not see them often, but there is a strong bond that never seems to weaken. These are the friends produced from mutual caring, and have endured the test of time. They are the best kind. I take that back. I’m not sure they are any better than the most recently found friend; all friends are valued. At any rate; someone said that friends are two people with one soul; sounds good to me.

Now if we could just get them whenever and wherever we wanted…


This is Retirement Talk.




Follow Retirement Talk on Facebook: on Facebook