No, that's not my baby picture, but it is my reminder of why I tend to gravitate towards stories on health and social issues and the reason why I do a lot of the things I do - my granddaughter Ila, my daughter Jessika and my son-in-law Chris. I never need a reminder of the value of family. I talk to my daughter and granddaughter at least once a week. For me there is no greater joy than hearing that little voice on the other end of the line: "Nana, I love you, send you kisses and squishes."
This week I was strongly reminded of not only the joy, but also the sacred responsibility of friendship. I'm old enough not to need reminding, but caught up enough in the stuff of life, and if truth were told, some emotional self-indulgence, that I did need a swift verbal kick in the rear - which I got this week without any preamble. All I can say to my friend Elly is thank you. Thank you for being a true friend, for taking the time to say "Hey, you don't write, you don't call, what's the matter with you, are your friends chopped liver?" That's not a direct quote, but it's close enough.
Friendship, whether it's with a family member or what we consider family by choice, is a blessing - one that should be cherished not because it's an obligation, but because it adds dimension and value to our world and our lives. Like most things of real value, friendship needs more than just mental commitment. It requires an output of energy and time and a willingness to be uncomfortable and take risks with our hearts.
Thinking about friendship this week also made me think of relationships in general and the value in the myriad relationships I develop on a daily basis. From taking the time to get to know the person at my local grocery store, bakery or drug store, those seemingly inconsequential connections with others on a regular basis are far from trivial or unimportant. Each person I connect with, that we, individually or collectively connect with, makes my world a safer, healthier place. When I walk down the street and know someone at least by sight, in every other store, that street just became a bit safer. People have a propensity towards ownership, even tenuous ownerships, so when we are familiar to each other we are more likely to be more aware, more peripherally involved and concerned with someone we think of as one of our own. It is that consciousness of another person we see as connected to our daily lives that makes a building, a street, a neighbourhood or a community a safer place to be and increasingly hard to do in our growing and sometimes transient communities. My friend Elly jolted me into pondering the nature of friendships and relationships and why they are so vital to our individual well-being and to our collective, community and global well-being.
After all, it's a lot harder to pretend something isn't our business when we know someone, even if it's just by sight. And by being involved, by taking chances, I believe that I'm making my community, my country and yes, even my world, a little bit safer - for my granddaughter and family and for yours as well.