Indeed, the bay beckons. Cold water flows, the rippled current runs its course, the breeze feels cool upon my back, the mountain I must climb tomorrow shrinks, and friendship strikes its gentle beat inside my heart. This universe is not about you, but around you. You are but a dying star, and stars never seem to consider or cry about their fate.
Yesterday I walked a pier beside a longtime companion. A lonely pier she was, this being March on a section of Earth that finds the climate cool. No fishermen there, as is usual in summertime; just bobbing boats beyond the wooden pilings, and gentle waves, colored grey beneath a cloudy sky.
“When I was a child,” my friend began to say; and there I lost his voice. I backed far enough away to watch the distant look inside his eyes. I wondered at his kindness. I admired the fact that he would not allow memories of dead people he loved to take him down toward sadness. Just the opposite occurred; he smiled as he spoke of fishing off this same pier with his father, so many years ago. And nowadays his dad remains just as close inside his soul as way back then.
I said nothing more than “Thank you for this walk, my friend.”
“The wind feels cold on my bald spot, there where I have no hair,” he said.
I laughed, because my friend’s head is more bald than furred with the pelt of youth that so many of us men lose as we grow old.
We turned and stepped the path back toward my friend’s truck; the door squealed as I pulled her open.
“That was a good walk,” I said.
“Want to go shopping now?” he said. “You told me that you need a belt, and I need groceries. This afternoon I want to make a soup of beans and ham.”
“Yes, let’s go then,” I said.
And off we went, my friend driving the highway, and I — his grateful passenger — trying hard to realize the moment.
“This is what’s right inside my world,” I thought, “although this world is not my own to keep.”
This coming week I plan to see another friend, this time for dinner and conversation. I grow tired of thinking and talking about me, so I’ll ask instead to listen as she speaks, to pay attention to her life as she travels through her moments. Friendship owns the way of blizzard winds, those warning gusts that at one and the same time terrify intelligence and wash away all misery and complaint.