The other night we had our what has become customary ‘community dinner’ – a group of couples from the neighborhood making room in our lives for friends – and in the middle of the always noisy crowd, I glanced down at the five men on the other end of the table, and time stopped for just a moment.
I felt a fondness for them I hadn’t felt before. Separately, they are quite different from one another, varying interests and lifestyles. But together, some sort of magic was happening that I’m accustomed to when my 3 adult girls are all together or when I’m with my friends- but not so much with the guys.
Perhaps it was that there is an absence of a game to watch or something to be done to focus their energy on. For two years, these guys have come together with their wives to just do nothing but eat a meal and digest life.
We’re all at the age where the kids are graduating, moving out, getting married, and one is even entering grandparenthood. Our parents are dealing with old age all very differently, and some are gone. Two have experienced job loss near age 50. We talk about college bills, homes, careers and learning how to be parents to adults.
And we drink a lot of wine.
Women gravitate naturally towards one another. Grabbing lunch together, hitting a yoga class, making time for each other in crazy busy days. We know we need each other.
But to see the guys experiencing community so naturally made the world stop for a moment.
Maybe the younger set finds this easier? I’m not sure. I know that with these guys, the lone ranger comes in too often and resistance to community is natural. I’m too tired, too busy, too stressed…
But now, they say yes more easily. I’m pretty sure that this group has helped each of them walk through midlife challenges more easily. This week there was talk of a group ballgame and a wine weekend in California in the middle of the always constant talk of which beach country we’ll be retiring in.
Life is short and the most amazing piece of wisdom I’m gaining is it really IS what you make it after all. What’s so special about pasta dinners on Wednesday nights? This little thing called community that doesn’t happen by accident.
Or one of Ghandi’s simple truths: Actions express priorities. All you have to do is show up.