Two weekends ago I went to L.A. to do a book event and visit with friends. (Six of my close women-friends now live there!) My husband—bless his kind heart—said to me, “You know, time just keeps marching by, so if you want to see your friends, you really just need to go.” He was right.
I make such a big deal sometimes of making plans and mapping out my life that I miss the big picture. And the big picture is this: loving my friends takes action. It takes setting aside time, following up, arranging, and extending myself. It takes getting on a plane and going.
Meaning, just like in my art life and my marriage, I have to work at it. Having close friends is not going to happen in adulthood the way it did when I was in college: we were all just there, hanging out, with a structure that threw us together every day, and made it possible for us to know each other both in casual hanging around and deeply intimate moments.
Adulthood conspires against that. So though I won’t get to see or talk to my friends every day, I can open my heart to the possibility of more time with them rather than less; more connection versus longer gaps of seeing their faces.
Once, when we were first dating, I asked my husband what he wanted out of life. He said, “To put together a few great sentences; to do something for my community; to be a great friend.” Still, now—and even more so as I learn that what’s important is the love we share, both with people and our creative callings—I believe that. That what will sustain us is not the next mega-project; the next “big thing,” but instead, getting our hands and hearts into what we love.
So I’m working now, in this era of my life, to pay attention. To stop and notice the simple things that bring me joy and make me feel connected, the stuff that warms my heart for no other reason than I love those things. Friends are at the top of that list.
In Marie Kondo’s brilliant book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, she lets us in on a little secret: when we clear out the clutter and the stuff that’s just there because it’s there—meaning activities and obligations and mindless stuff that eats away at our time and our joy—what we have left is what we really want to keep.
It’s a lesson for me every day: less time-fillers; more connection to what I love.
I love my friends. They are warm, they are quirky, they are heart-filled, and they are smart and beautiful and real. They touch me. When I walk this crazy creative-life with them I feel less alone, less bothered by its challenges, more in touch with the truth of the joys of my days.
That is worth every effort. Friends to walk this path with. Friends to warm my heart. Friends to love, and see, and hang out with and talk to. To my nearest and dearest–no matter where you are–what a blessing you are to me.