Pandora got it right with music. Sometimes you want jazz, sometimes R & B, or sometimes singers who remind you of Adele or Usher. Sometimes you want a few stations on shuffle or to explore just one on a lazy Sunday afternoon.Sometimes too, with music as with friendships, I come across someone new whose rhythm I like, even if it’s just for a little while. Like the time I pal’d up in Egypt with an eighty-something Canadian farmer who also came on the tour solo. On day two, upon hearing his fresh-out-of-surgery hip replacement creaking, I promised to carry him out of the tomb and after a shared laugh, we became fast friends.
“Have an adventurous life,” the teen valedictorian encouraged his classmates at my daughter’s high school graduation. Or maybe everyone. Wise beyond his years, he rooted for getting to know folks of different races, nationalities, sexual orientations, classes, etc. I wonder if he took his own advice and what kind of man he is now if he had the curious, interesting life it seems he should have.
As I sat there listening to him, I felt lucky that way. Specifically, I flashed back to my thirty-second birthday when my friend Vivian planned a special birthday party for me (complete with a magician). At some point, she wondered aloud why the guest list looked like a United Nations summit, but it made perfect sense to me.
Since youth, my pal playlist has always been this hodgepodge of multi-generational, multi-racial characters from all walks of life, sprinkled with eighty-something Canadian farmers, twenty-something techies and everything in between.
With me it was never about more friends. It was about different friends who mapped to certain aspects of my personality, preferred activities, values or moods.
The reason I have eleven stations on Pandora is that I don’t expect any one of them to be my everything. Same with friends. Sometimes I need a Zen friend, sometimes I need a fun friend. Sometimes I need a hug or a different perspective. Depends on my state of mind or one I’m trying to invoke.
With my fondness for variety, the friend-making thing is continuous and much easier if I lighten up on vetting. Sometimes it’s just I’m here, you’re here and I like your vibe, so let’s see where it goes. If there’s chemistry and I’m not in hermit-mode, connections happen all the time.
When my outgoing grandniece started pre-school, she quickly made a friend on the first day too with one of her generous grins because that is still a universal ice-breaker, and you figure the rest out later.
What I know most is that if I was stranded on a desert island, what I’d want first is to get rescued, but until then, give me some well-stocked coconut trees, rocks to crack them open and the following five types of friends:
- An unshakeable, rock-solid Zen friend for calm, comfort, and big-picture perspective.
- A resourceful warrior who would scheme right along with me to get us home.
- A creative (any medium) to stave off boredom if we were stranded for a bit.
- Somebody a lot better at geography than me to draw a map on our message-in-a-bottle.
- A clown to keep the laughs coming.
Who’s on your friend playlist and why?