What comes to mind when you think of silver and gold? Gold standard. Silver certificates. Symbols of wealth and status for centuries, gold and silver are precious metals (ah, yes, precious). While I doubt many would turn down a little more wealth, this is neither the kind of wealth nor the type of silver and gold I’m speaking of here.
Long, long ago, in a state far, far away, I was a Brownie. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term, Brownies are sort of a pre- Girl Scout. You Girl Scouts and Girl Guides out there probably recognize the lyrics, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.”
As a military brat and then a military spouse, I’ve moved around a lot, and this song has been in the back of my mind with each move I’ve made. (In fact, I’ve had the little ditty on repeat in my head since I started drafting this blog,) Today, we live in a very mobile society; not only military families move frequently. Regardless of how often you do it, leaving friends is always hard. Even moving across town can shake up your social networks.
It turns out, however, that having close ties to a tribe of your own is exceptionally important. In this TED talk, Dr. Robert Waldinger talks about an unexpected finding of the Grant Study started by Harvard College (now Harvard University) in 1938, and spanning over three quarters of a century. Having good relationships is a major indicator of longevity and happiness.
Cultivating and maintaining close relationships does not come naturally for everyone and it seems to grow more difficult as we age. Nevertheless, it’s a skill that could be worth your very health and happiness to practice regardless of your natural tendencies. Reach out to a friend, a family member, someone in your neighborhood, anyone whose existence in the world touches you. Bonus points if it’s someone who could use the boost of being thought of or included.
This week for me is a week of the silver and the gold. On Saturday I flew out to visit one of my very best friends, who I met on Ramstein Air Base in Germany a goodly number of years ago. We haven’t seen each other since our now-22 year olds were second graders, but we have kept in close touch. Although I’ve never spent any length of time in Illinois prior to this, visiting Cathy is a homecoming to me. This sister of my heart has been an integral part of my life since my first born was in kindergarten and we have shared ups and downs and everything in between.
On Friday, back home once again, I will be meeting with a group of complete strangers who are only connected to me by a group on Facebook and our shared pursuit of blogging or entrepreneurship. I’m staring down multiple fears including, but not limited to, driving downtown, parking downtown (it’s own special issue), and exercising my creaky skills of making new friends and/or networking.
Really, though, what do I have to lose by going? Time, gas money, perhaps a little dignity. What do I have to gain? New connections, a new community, and maybe, just maybe some new friends.
What are you plans to tend to the gold and silver in your life? I would love to hear your stories!
Brightest blessings! ~Sunny