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Old Friends…


My old friend Bill, the fellow with whom I shared so many adventures in the Caribbean so many years ago, visited us recently with his wife, Linda. It was wonderful to reconnect to a piece of my life that I treasure, and I was reminded how important old friends are. We talked about the people we knew way back when – the ones who are still with us and the ones that have taken a hiatus in the play of life, and I remembered that old friends are a lot like good books. You have to visit them from time to time, to be reminded of their depth and their value. I thought of the poet Robert Southey, who said, “No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth…”

It seems to me that friends are the bulwarks in life – the old ones help us grow old gracefully with the pleasure of reminiscence, and the new ones help us to maintain our vitality, our sense of purpose, and our zest for living. Finding old friends again is like finding a sparkling gem in the dust of life – it glitters and your eyes brighten and sometimes mist when you contemplate its making.

It takes a long time to grow a real friend, and we must always remember that value when life grants us an encounter. Time changes all things slightly, and we must be willing to compromise and to compensate occasionally, and never allow our ego or our pride to sully the delight in that special possession.

The conversations with someone who has walked a few miles with you are precious. It’s like stepping into a time machine. You become surrounded with a collage of recollections – a trip down memory lane. I sometimes wonder how deep and broad that lane is, for there are occasions when we meet someone for the first time, and it seems like nothing more than finding them again. You see a face, and the whole world seems to go eerily silent, and funnels down to nothing more than the person in front of you. The eyes, the smile, and the voice are so familiar you just want to say, “Lord! It’s so good to see you again!”

If you haven’t experienced this, then it all sounds like so much esoteric moonshine, but for those of you whom the gods have graciously allowed this remarkable, perhaps ageless connection, you understand. You’re smiling now and nodding your head, because you know exactly what it feels like. Although there may be a distance between us, we’re really not that far apart, because friendship is never measured by miles, it’s gauged by the heart.

You can’t concoct old friends – it’s an alchemy of sorts that is born of giving, sharing, laughter, and pain. Old friends are the ones who can remember with you, and remember how far you’ve come…

The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the ownership and staff of The Polk County Pulse. Michael Reisig is a freelance writer and published author whose works are reproduced throughout the globe.

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