It’s been said that “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” In a recent reflection on my life, I see a clear parallel between my personal journey and that fabled stone, leaving behind most moss I’ve rolled past.
I’ve known or read about people who’ve gained enduring friendships, even when they’ve moved several times over the course of their lives. Attachments to early playmates or other elementary students can commonly outlast a person’s marriages or family relationships. Friendships made in our youth seem to bear a closer bond than many formed later, more akin to soul mates than casual friends. Sometimes, a small group of friends becomes bound together by a common interest or for mutual survival in a world where they don’t fit in.
I’ve never seemed to form that type of early friendship, and as a rolling stone, I haven’t focused on a single career. I’ve seldom stayed at jobs for any significant length of time. My life has been best described as moving from one small universe to another, bringing little with me to the new location except for memories, experience, and strong family ties. My relationship with my wife and my family are tethers that remain unbroken along that path, going ever forward, never back.
In each new situation, I’ve worked to do well in whatever endeavor I’ve chosen, gathering new acquaintances and friends. Each start is a fresh new adventure, arriving at distant shores and adapting to or changing the environment in which I find myself. In my youth, I was occasionally concerned that I might somehow be flawed and didn’t conform to the “proper” way to live. I saw many people create careers and families, settling down to a life of bowling on Thursdays, and weekend barbecues, hanging with the guys, talking just out of earshot of the wives. I instinctively knew I would never be content with that kind of life. Eventually, I became comfortable with my choices and challenges, taking a different path than most. Along the way, any absence of challenge was not to be endured.
The concept of friends confused me, but I’ve always understood that a true friend would go to great lengths to help you in times of need and that it worked both ways. I’ve never experienced that deep friendship, with a few exceptions. I’ve never felt the need to create that specific relationship with others, though I will go to extraordinary lengths to help any of my acquaintances in their time of need. Furthermore, I’ve always expected more of myself than I do of others. I suppose the adage that it’s better to give than receive is an integral part of my reality. I am comfortable with that.
I use the term “friends” when referring to casual relationships with people I know, as it seems to be the accepted term now, rather than “acquaintances,” which has fallen out of use. Calling everyone we connect with on Facebook “friends” is using the word rather loosely.
I do delight in being with anyone I currently know. I’m very unlikely to move again unless it eventually is to a home for the infirm. I do not doubt that I would be troublesome at times, but I would also likely develop some friends there.
A rolling stone must, at some point, come to rest. If lucky, it will rest on lush, soft green moss and find deep peace there without stifling boredom. In contentment, I’m already in such a place, next to my loving wife, chickens, sheep, and goats.