Widen the Circle

Last weekend Amanda, my sweet daughter-in-law, and I were talking about changes in life, and she mentioned how much she missed Myrtle Beach and expressed the hope that they’d move back there someday. Since she and Paul both grew up in the area, I’m sure it was hard to leave family and friends for Atlanta. When Amanda mentioned that the main friends they now have are from church and work, it got me to thinking about friends and the importance of keeping the old and of making new ones. Plus, it reminded me of a quote I read by Eleanor Roosevelt last week: “The narrower you make the circle of your friends, the narrower will be your experience of people and the narrower will your interests become. It is an important part of one’s personal choices to decide to widen the circle of one’s acquaintances whenever one can.”

Being back in my hometown has occasionally thrown me into the company of friends and acquaintances from the past. It’s enjoyable to rub shoulders with those with whom I share a history, people who know my “back story.” Being around Patty and Joan Ella this past weekend reminded me of the importance of roots, memories, and a collective past.

At the same time, new friends are wonderful too. Sitting with Connie at church Sunday reinforced that. We share the same faith, ups and downs with our children and grandchildren, a love of books, an appreciation of terms like feng shui and wabi sabi, excitement over terms like Namaste, and an appreciation for the several ways one can accessorize black. A couple of other “C” friends, Carol and Cindy from Church, have also added to my enjoyment of life back in good old Camden. So have dozens of other Relief Society members. Our shared sisterhood in the gospel of Jesus Christ centers our lives and provides a sense of community and belongingness like no other…unless it’s with family.

Then there are work friends, people I’d never even laid eyes on this time seven years ago but who are now people whose conversation and company I’ve come to enjoy. Four of us are heading to New York City the day after graduation, and almost daily we discuss some little detail of our trip. Martha ordered the tickets for West Side Story and gave me mine today. Lisa and I had planned to look at the times of the ferry rides to Ellis Island, but we were interrupted by a student who needed a listening ear. Again, these people were complete strangers to me seven years ago.

On Thursday of last week my sister Ann and I went to MUSC to sit with my sister-in-law while my brother was in surgery, and while we were sitting in the fourth floor surgical waiting room, I heard someone say, “Jayne” in a soft, almost inaudible voice. I turned to see Ellen, a woman with whom I worked when I lived at the coast. Talking to her conjured up all sorts of recollections of dear friends with whom I shared so many good times during our “trying twenties” and “catch thirties.” Er, I guess we shared much of our forties too. We went through marriages, children, divorces, remarriages, disappointments, promotions, and a host of other vicissitudes of adult life. June, if you’re out there reading this, I miss you…and Ella, Elaine, Mary, Gail, Millie, Judy, Linda, Murph, and Teresa.

Last but far from least, there are my blog friends, most of whom I’ve never seen eye-to-eye but whose voices have become familiar and important to me. They’ve stimulated my thinking and broadened my horizons. At odd times, I find myself thinking about one or another of them (of you!) and wondering how a certain situation is evolving. Right now, NoSurfGirl’s little girls are on my mind.

I’ve gone on longer than I intended. Sorry about that. My purpose was to stress the importance of friends and to let Amanda know what a feast she has in store for her as she travels through her adult years. Reading E. Roosevelt’s quote and thinking about friends has encouraged me to continue widening my circle of acquaintances and friends.

Author: jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer

One thought on “Widen the Circle”

  1. That’s one thing that I really love like about the internet. Friends that I have long wondered about, I can now touch base and see what is going on in their lives. I used to wonder about my best from from elementary school and lo! Facebook reuniteth!

    And it is interesting the real connection you can make online through reading about someone’s experiences and life observations.

    Whenever I come here, I am always overcome with a sense of calm well-being. And open acceptance.

    Thanks for your positive comments, especially the last one. Whenever I visit your site, I always come away feeling stimulated and inspired.

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