I have thought much about friendship in recent years, wishing I had more, wondering why so many guys I know also don’t have many friends.
In 2023, I decided to do something about it.
I made a mental list of people who I hope to have a better relationship with– acquaintances, family, friends from long ago who I had lost contact with. I have committed to write them, text them, email them, and visit to begin to see what happened to them.
I have seen stats that nearly 15 percent of men and 10 percent of women say they do not have a close friend. We can blame it on our video games or TikTok, the demise of team sports or the elite players who excel. There is no room for the club player, the mediocre guy who will play catcher on the men’s softball team, bat 10th, and still enjoy it.
Churches and synagogues are places for the old.
The coffee shop, what Starbucks used to be when Howard Schultz started it as the “third place,” neither home or work but a place where people could go to meet, is gone.
Zoom is a poor substitute. My son, Ari, says there are websites devoted to meeting potential friends, so maybe there is hope in the online world, but I don’t know if they are getting traction. It does show that men are recognizing the damage of loneliness and looking for ways to discover new friends.
I have read that loneliness is as damaging to health as smoking a pack of cigarettes each day.
I have been blessed to have a wife who is also a best friend and adult children who like to be with me. I treasure that, and we converse often.
Yet I know there is more, especially as I traverse my 70s.
I have a standing appointment to talk with my friend Jerry every Saturday for one to two hours on Zoom. Over the years, we have been getting together for tennis, golf, coffee, or breakfast, after a morning shift at the local homeless shelter. Now we meet on Zoom to talk about family, politics, sports, and occasionally ailments. It’s a great thing, 40 years in the making.
But I know I can have more than one good friend and the gift of a loving family.
I know there is further enrichment out there. I have decided to go after it with the persistence I show chasing a business deal.
Over the last 10 days, I have been calling or contacting old friends and family. I connected with a cousin who I have been playing Words with Friends with on the internet for several years. We will be seeing each other in a few days. I hope to have a genuine conversation. We will see.
I have connected with my teenage granddaughters in a much deeper way than I ever have. They have educated me about their lives, and I have given them a deeper glimpse of Lloyd, the man. In the past, I never really connected with their lives, and they saw me as distant. We have finally begun a genuine conversation, and I’m truly happy and surprised at its depth.
I just had a conversation with my sister again in a meaningful way. For so many years, our conversations have been brief and on the surface. We recently spent an hour talking about our parents and I learned stuff I never understood. Where has the time gone?
I’ve reached out to business friends and writing acquaintances. It is a place to start.
I am on an extended stay at the moment with my daughter in California. It is a great time to begin my new mission.
I’ll end with a quote from author Ally Condie:
“Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side-by-side. Our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.”
Question: Who is one person in your past you’d love to reconnect with?