In-Sourcing Blog

Adventures in France… and in the ship’s dining room

Howard and I are back from a wonderful vacation, exploring the little towns that dot the river Seine and paying our profound respect to the American soldiers left behind on the beaches of Normandy. We came back with memories… and an unexpected, heartwarming gift: new friends!

If you’ve ever tried to make new friends as an adult, you know it’s just plain hard. As kids, making friends can be as simple as going on the monkey bars together. But as adults, we’re more aware of the risks of being judged by others, of not being liked, of being rejected, and of being hurt.  Particularly if we’ve been let down previously.

But the inestimable value of friends can’t be ignored.  We need friends!  Of the causes of depression, loneliness is a significant factor. Connecting with another person on a meaningful level is an excellent antidote.

Friends have always played a hugely important role in my life.  Now more than ever before as we take our tentative steps on the path called aging, sharing Medicare mishaps and the sputtering courage that keeps us keeping on.  Our connection and our shared experience make it so much easier.  How reassuring, how nurturing, how fortunate to be understood; to be validated!  I cherish the friend who recognizes that heartache is not a medical condition and offers me a strong shoulder to lean on whenever it is needed.

Our vacation visiting France and its landmarks of history gave us connection to the culture and politics of our past. The conversations around the dinner table provided a connection to intimate moments of personal grace as we progressed through the stories that allowed us both to laugh and to reveal the feelings that are so difficult to air.  As we worked our way through where-are-you-from and what-do-you-do we listened and empathized without judgment… and became friends.

The risk is small when we stick to conversation about the Chicago Cubs and the fickle weather. The challenge is to open to the risk of being our authentic selves. We hesitate to reveal our true nature because of the high price we paid for disclosing it in our past.  We want and need to be loved, but we are wary and frightened of displeasing the “other” and being rejected. On the confines of the ship we risked being vulnerable, disclosing our authentic selves in forthright ways that gratefully responded to being accepted rather than judged.  Around the sharing circle of our dinner table our trust grew; we felt safe enough to let ourselves be vulnerable, trusting and transparent… and became friends.

We took a journey on the river Seine… and a journey from the head to the heart.

We boarded the ship as fellow travelers on a tour of Paris and environs.  We disembarked seven days later as fellow travelers on our journey through life… and became friends.