By Tom Demerly for tomdemerly.com
My life is 70% over. Only 30% remains. WorldLifeExpectency.com says I will die when I am 73. I’m 55.
I know all the colloquialisms about “the best is yet to come”, “your best days are still ahead” and “70 is the new 40”. I’ve heard them. This is our way of establishing emotional distance from mortality with fable. We’re afraid to die, and we distance ourselves from its inevitability any way we can, so much so that we often forget to live.
Last night the arc of abundance in my life converged in a marvelous peak that reminded me of something very rewarding, very comforting, very valuable. I have friends. Good friends.
We met at my lifelong best friend’s house for a house warming party. I know it was the realization among us that our lives are finite and every rare opportunity to meet is precious that brought us together last night. It wasn’t someone’s new house. None of my friends took that for granted, and nearly all of us were there.
I could gush to you about my friends, they are incredible people. Collectively they are engineers, scientists, real estate brokers, writers, physical therapists, code writers. Those are some of their jobs. But who they are as people is friends. Friends to me, to each other, to the other people in their lives outside our circle. Friends to mankind who spread abundance and tolerance and understanding and wonder. They are a watershed of kindness and good judgement that is never ending. It has spanned decades. We met when we were teenagers. We have changed little since, and what change there has been is overwhelmingly for the better. These people made my life better, and they make the world better. I’m lucky to have them.
My reflection on last night is seen in the mirror of a textured life lived from one end of the human spectrum to another. I’ve dined with kings in the Arab desert, slept on the streets in California. I’ve been wealthy, and beyond completely broke. I’ve been the pinnacle of health and fitness, and struggled to remember my name after waking up from a stroke. And I’ve watched life pass from this earth before my eyes in ways both violent and comforting.
And through it all the consistent thing I return to for comfort, no matter where I am, delighting in abundance or comforting myself in the dark intimacy of looming death, I return to the comforting realization that friends are immensely valuable.