She makes instant friends…

Posted: May 26, 2010 in Notes from the Daddy Front
Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Hyla makes friends in an instant. And not just friends. Best friends. Apparently all that’s needed is age proximity, a willingness to play and somewhat of a joyous spirit and with those things intact she proceeds to bond at a level that has previously taken me years to achieve.

We’ve been down at a resort in the past few weeks and I’ve seen Hyla bond instantly with two sets of friends. One group she met in the pool and then proceeded to play with them morning, noon and night and the other she met over a game of chess on a life size chess board. Within minutes there was laughing squealing and the sharing of the kind of private jokes that you need to be 9 year-old to understand.

I love watching this and I love the joy on her face as she explores these new relationships, discovers new intimacies and forms new bonds.

Hyla is an only child. And, as such, she has learned very well how to entertain herself. Her world is filled with all kind of solitary activities that seems to bring her hours of fun. I really admire her ability to find fun in some of the most mundane things imaginable. A couple of dolls that turn into a coterie of friends, her dog, who becomes an imaginary person and a book that she will lose herself in for hours. It’s a remarkable skill and I hope it will serve her well as an adult.

I really envy her ability to find such joy in these instant unions. As an adult I don’t really make many new friends. Most of my closest friends are people I’ve known for years and those bonds were formed earlier in my life. Occasionally someone comes along who joins my inner circle but it doesn’t happen very often. Most often they become acquaintances or become part of my business network. And I have noticed a new phenomenon where I am making new “Facebook friends” who I share these kinds of intimacies with but whom I’ve never met.

So often when we meet new people we have an agenda. Can they help me in my business affairs? Is there a romantic interest or do we have something else in common that holds our link together? But not Hyla. With her, the friendship is both the means and the end all rolled into one and I find that I’m envying her knack for forming these apparently deep and lasting friendships that seem to bring her so much joy and pleasure.

When did attaching ourselves become so complicated and difficult? How did we lose that ease of playground bonding?

I have many, many acquaintances, even more business contacts but only a very few really close friends. These are the few people who I know I can count on when the straits seem dire and I love them dearly and would do anything for them myself.

When I ended up in the hospital two years ago – in the ICU and literally on life support for several days – there were my two closest friends who stood watch in my room, taking rotating shifts and keeping the rest of my world apprised of my developing condition. They would do anything for me and I, for them, and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have such friends who would drop their lives to be there for mine.

Those friendships took years to cultivate and the equity that I built in those friendships took many years to grow. But Hyla has such a pure spirit and such a lack of agenda and in her world you can be her friend if you meet the most basic of criteria.

Now, one may think that these kind of connections do not run deep or may be fairly disposable but the laughter, the whispered intimacies and the pure joy that flows from these links are very real and they make me almost as happy as they seem to make her. I love to watch her play and to explore the boundaries of these new BFF’s and inside I wish I could do the same. I used to be able to do this but as I’ve grown up that ability has faded and has been replaced with a kind of self-protectiveness. I now protect my heart and it takes a fair bit to get me to drop my guard to the point where I let someone into my innermost circle.

But why shouldn’t we have the joy that these unions seem to bring? Why do we deny ourselves that kind of laughter and those same whispered secrets? I think that, once again, I’m going to find myself taking a cue from my 9 year-old sweetie and to try and be more open to the joy that a good friend can bring.

I love my friends dearly and I know they love me and I love the comfort that comes from knowing that they’re there. I would consider myself very lucky to have more of those bonds in my life. It just doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it and Hyla has reminds me of that on a regular basis. Sure, it does take some trust and sometimes that needs to be earned, but when the reward is great the risk often needs to be great, too.

Not too long ago I had a reunion with one of my best friends from my earlier times. We hadn’t seen each other in 25 years and, of course, we just picked up right where we left off. There was such comfort in that bond and I consider myself lucky to have those connections in my life and as I move forward I resolve to not only cherish those kinds of connections but to seek out new ones because they make my life so rich.

Hyla makes instant friends and I’m going to try to expand my world, too. Because at the end of the day the things that matter the most to me are not the things that I own. They are the people who love me and the joy they bring me and I will now measure my wealth not by the balance in the bank but by the number of people who care about me and those that I can now call my friends. Thank you, all of you. You know who you are.


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