I have great friends. Very close friends, not as close friends, wonderful acquaintances, work friends, school friends, parents of other kids friends, friends who work in the same field as me, past work friends, and friends who I can't even remember how we became friends; all just amazing friends.
Our local fair just came and went. It was there, at the fair, that I experienced this latest overwhelming epiphany. I have great, wonderful, amazing friends. And the having of these friends is what makes my life full, completely, almost to bursting. The kind of full I have felt recently when holding my first grandchild for the first time, the "I don't deserve this much happiness and goodness, but I'm so thankful for it" kind of full.
Three is usually the minimum amount of times I go to the fair: once to work, once for my daughter to ride the rides, and once to just take it all in. If I can fit in more, I do, but three is usually my minimum.
My trips to the fair this year included the more-than-normal amount of running into friends. A number of them were ones I haven't seen in 15 to 20 years. It was a beautiful thing to reach back in time and hug these people again. And in doing so, to realize that, though my journey has been long, there have been other people on their own journey, too, in a kind of parallel universe, all happening at the same time, in the same kind of order, all of us giving birth, raising toddlers, working through the middle school pains, into the graduation years and, most recently, the reinvention of ourselves as grandparents.
The cycle of life, we all have our ticket and have gotten on board and, though we may be on a different track, most of the trains are going in a very similar direction. There's no turning back, but our train does now obviously seem to be on a circular bent - quite surprising! Just like the earth circles the sun once a year, my train has made a wide loop around its original, more tight path so that now, from a distance, I can see back to the significant events in my story that directly relate to the happenings in my children's lives: Childhood, friendships, graduation, choices in dating, career paths, marriage, children.
What does it say that the last in the series, children, is the first one to hit me so smack dab in the middle of my forehead and wake me up to what's been going on around me this whole time? :-)
This, now, I know, is what our parents experienced, and their parents before them. And, in time, 25-30 years from now, what our children will realize, too. Life. A returning of all things to the cycle. Get on the train or just watch as the trains depart, but the trains are leaving all the time and to really fully experience the journey you have to get on board.
My friends, then, have been passengers with me on this wonderful, ever-evolving train ride. There have been stops along the way, some get on, some get off, but my train seems to be specifically mine and I seem to have become the conductor. I, alone, determine the track and its direction. I don't, however, determine all of the passengers! Serendipity, really, plays a part. And to be completely honest, I do believe at times I have let Serendipity be the conductor. :-)
I love my friends, I love my journey, I love my family, I love my life.
Half of a century it's taken me to be able to embrace all the pieces and understand their meaning; I hope that I will be fortunate and have close to another half of a century to share in the train rides of my friends and family, and *this time* to be more cognizant of the ride and my role in it. To be more of a participant and to give to each of my riders what they have given to me: The ride of a lifetime! A chance to let go completely and feel the joy that is the ride!
I love my life.