Editor’s Desk

Column: People come and go in our lives

jwhitfield@newsobserver.comApril 18, 2014 

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There’s a strange ebb and flow to the people that come into and out of our lives. We work with people who join our mix, make friends, then leave for another opportunity. People join churches or civic clubs, then move and transfer their memberships.

But the biggest change in our lives comes with graduation from high school, which, for this year’s crop of seniors, is just a couple months away.

After high school, their government and their parents will no longer make them get up and go to school, sit in classrooms with the same general group of people or eat lunch at the prescribed time.

Some will continue their educations in a college or university. Others will get their first real job. Others will join the military. And others will drift aimlessly, at a loss without the structure that school has given them for most of their lives.

But they won’t see their childhood friends nearly as much. Oh sure, some will remain friends with their closest high school confidants. But on a day-in, day-out basis, they will be on their own, forced to try to make new friends. Some will be very good at it. Others will develop a small new circle of friends. Others will be so focused on the new chapter in their lives that friends will be little more than transient acquaintances.

As they age, they will build new sets of friends over and over. With each career move for those who leave their hometown, there will be new churches, new jobs, new mechanics, doctors and plumbers.

When they have children, their newest friends will be the parents of other children the same age as theirs.

What all this tells us is we are a social people.

For the most part, we like having other people in our lives. We want someone to have fun with. We want people to help us in our times of need and sorrow. We like working with people who share our interests and concerns. We want to share the successes and, sometimes, the failures in our lives with other people.

There’s a certain security in knowing that we don’t face the challenges of life alone. There’s always someone out there who has either faced the same challenge, or has some sage advice about how we might deal with the challenges we face.

Then, for those who play and win the lottery, there are suddenly all manner of friends who want to spend time with us. Most of us, fortunately, can sniff out a charlatan.

Other people make our lives richer. If, like me, you’re mechanically challenged, it’s great to have someone like my father-in-law in your circle of friends. He’s a wizard with a wrench and he’s been a lifesaver on more than one occasion.

Our job, hard as it is sometimes, is to be a friend in return. We all have friends in our lives. Together the people we associate with make our circles complete.

Replacing them can be a bummer, but it can also enrich our lives beyond measure.

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