I have a friend who is in his eighties.
We have been friends for eight years, 25% of my life, 10% of his. When we lived in the same area, we got together for Mexican food, which he loved, or elaborate coffees, which I loved. Now we live six states apart and we talk on the phone most every week.
He and I met in a class we both happened to take one fall. I wasn’t so sure if I’d take it; I was afraid of the time commitment. But still, I was curious about the class. And, for some reason, I decided to respect my curiosity.
It wasn’t friendship at first sight. But one dinner, on a retreat weekend for the class, we happened to sit next to each other. And I remember how he welcomed me to the table, his dry and sly humor, the questions he asked about my life because, I would later see, he really wanted to know what it was like to be me.
From that dinner on, we were buddies. We got together every few weeks and talked about anything; the whole world was fair game: how families break, new features on his iPhone, making career decisions, milkshakes, regaining hope. And I left our conversations feeling more human and whole.
I would never have known to ask for a friend 50 years older than me, but he was just what I needed.
Now, when I wonder if I should read that odd little book that caught my eye or register for that workshop that sounded interesting, I try to remember that when we respect our curiosity, we just may find the things we needed, but wouldn’t have known to ask for.
The very things that can help us feel more human and whole.