I have a good friend that I worked with in the software industry back in California, we’ve known each other almost 25 years. Recently he’s been making some diet and health changes that I have some background with, so he came down for a visit. It was wonderful! After being both a single parent, and caregiver to my father (who has some memory issues) over the last ten years, a weekend full of thoughtful conversation with another capable adult is really a blessing! Given all the changes that have happened in both of our lives over those 20+ years, it is also important have a friend that represents a continuity across so many years. Sometimes that can be a little embarrassing even, when he humorously reminds me of things I don’t even recall about my life at this point. They are so unlike me now that it feels like another lifetime. It was fun though… to reach back 15-20 years and remember details of work we’d done, what feels valuable about it now all these years later.
On Saturday I got to share my favorite hiking spot with him, including the tree that I like to hug. Yes, he had some tree hugger jokes going. But I just don’t get many opportunities to socialize, so for me its special to have a long-time friend come to town and to be able to bring them into some of my treasured spaces. We talked for a while that afternoon about how wrapped up our kids get in video games, and how that time seems to block them from doing well in school or for my son from engaging with other kid’s on a more physical level. I wonder how much it support the illusion that a “virtual” activity holds the same weight as a physical action, or a social accomplishment at school.
My friend shared that his youngest son will react strongly to a virtual object being taken or destroyed in his games. Likewise my son has had one of his most intense emotional reactions when he lost a world in his video game (due to a deletion glitch, and no backup). Their self-worth can become primarily viewed through their skill in the video games. On the positive side, kids collaborate, learn a system and figure out how to interact together to create things and accomplish goals. Those are good skills. Yet the imbalance of attention on virtual versus the physical world (eating, exercising, sleeping, or building things by hand ) is what I keep working on with my son. I related my sadness that our aftercare program at the local farm was curtailed, and now my son has 2 less hours a day to be outside. Even with his Taekwondo program, he gets roughly 1/3 the amount of steps and floors than he used to get, and much less contact with the natural world. How will these children develop strong physical bodies and balanced minds without this? My friend’s boys are fortunately a little older and do a lot of walking or bike riding from one place to another in their neighborhood.
It was quite helpful for me to have this quality of conversation with an old friend, especially as we can share our strengths at coping with single parenting. He lost his wonderful wife about three and half years ago to complications of medical conditions. He has endured a grief that I can’t imagine, and yet with the separation I faced, as well as family caregiving responsibilities, we have a common spiritual ground of persevering through deep life challenges.
It was also a blessing to strengthen our friendship and to know I was able to share information for his health changes right now. We don’t always get that chance to spend physical time with other people we care about, especially right at the moment they can use that support. He and I were also able to discuss a dynamic that happened in our friendship years ago. He acknowledged deeper recognitions with me that came over time and meeting life’s difficulties. I’m just grateful to experience that kind of long-lived friendship where things like that can finally unfold.
My friend joined us at our family brunch this morning, the photo captures a little of our relaxation and magic 🙂
Then after my friend hit the road to drive back home, my son and I were able to go meet a very special new friend! We have a family we are close with, and after several years they have completed the immigration process for their daughter/granddaughter/niece to live in the USA now. My son and I are delighted to welcome her. It was a special moment this afternoon to support her family and to help create a loving space for her here now ♥