Bob Schwartz

Tag: friends

Mike the Squirrel

This is a picture of a metal squirrel in front of a cactus. The squirrel was a gift from a beloved friend to mark our departure as a neighbor. I named him Mike. That was one of our many departings from friends and neighbors and Mike goes with us. He is never banished to a closet or storage room. He currently lives openly in a desert backyard. This friend and I do not stay in touch much. Mike the squirrel does not mean to nag but he is a reminder of missed opportunities for more moments with cherished friends. After posing for this picture, Mike returned to his usual spot on the back porch. I return to my chair where I can see the cacti and palm trees backed by mountains here before me and here after me. Maybe I will reach out to that friend and tell her how Mike is doing.

Reason and spirit, wisdom and compassion


as solid
as a rock.
Clinging to it
in the middle
of the ocean.

When I look to friends, colleagues and mentors who have taught and influenced me, I see in many of them a happy and helpful balance of reason and spirit. I thank them, and recommend having such people in your life.

This may be what I might want others to say of me, that I neither abandoned reason nor clung to it too tightly.

Freud and Freund

Sigmund Freud

Some dreams are literal or nearly so. Sometimes riding a roller coast is just riding a roller coaster. Some dreams, if you take a symbolic and analytical approach, mean more and say more than the action they depict. That roller coaster might be the story of your day or your life.

The rarest kind are wholly, or at least momentarily, conceptual and intellectual. That is, they are like reading a text or listening to a lecture, wherein an item is dictated or a point is announced.

Last night, a dream asked me to play a word game, to relate two words. It wasn’t quite a request, it was more like a reveal, as in “Look, don’t you see?”

The words were Freud and Freund (the German word for friend). I did not take this to mean that Freud is my friend. I took it to mean that analysis and investigation, which Freud is famous or infamous for, is/can be/may be near the heart of friendship. Friends may not want this or like this, we may not want to do this or complicate the joyful simplicity of a relationship, but it does happen.

Of course, Freud might find the dream and my interpretation of it…interesting. He might expect me to delve more deeply into why he made it into the dream at all, even if only as a name, and why in my dream I was playing word games instead of, say, riding a roller coaster or something equally thrilling. But then, I might ask him, as my freund, to kindly shut up and let me get back to sleep.

Friends Lost and Found

We lose friends lots of ways. One tragic way is to allow friendship to fade over time.

Friendship is treated and valued differently by everyone. It is personal, individual, no right or wrong for everyone, no better or worse for everyone.

Friendships often begin by chance and happenstance, but then require intention, attention, and maintenance. The easy beginning is one reason we forget that, as we forget many important matters while tending to the inconsequential.

Friendships, of a certain deep kind, are able to seemingly pick up the moment a lapsed connection is renewed, even after years. It shows that the tissue of the original connection was so strong, so almost meant to be, that it could withstand neglect.

But that realization is bittersweet. In it are the lost laughs and mutual mirror and sharing that might have been. And that ultimately, at some point, might be no more.

Is it hypocritical to remind others to cherish and cultivate friendship, when you yourself have left some—many—of those struggling on the vine? Then consider it a morsel of wisdom and cautionary tale. You may have lots of friends or few. They may be friendships that are deep or shallow, new or aged. But if you look inside to see just what kind of friend and friendship it is, you will know. And if it is that special sort of friend and friendship, consider how unique it might be for you, how that friend is a piece of a treasure you maybe stumbled upon and can’t replace and won’t replace.

This Christmas I learned, in reply to a holiday message to a too much ignored friend, that he is dying. I tried hard not to be self-centered, thinking about what I had lost, the years of conversations that could have been had, that I missed, that would have been a joy. He was losing his life, and the petty me was sad for having missed what I might have, with a little more effort, had.

You can rationalize these lapses as the way things happen and the way life goes. You can say, as long lost friends often do, that it goes both ways, that A is just as capable as B of picking up the phone or sending an email. But as with all our sensible perspectives, sense doesn’t matter.

For what it is worth, here is the message I sent out to him that got the reply from his wife. It may sound like I knew something about what was going on in his life, and maybe I did. Maybe I just knew that all of us are dying. Mostly I knew what I know about true treasure and how tricky it can be to find and keep it. So keep it, please.

I don’t know what to say about the passage of time. But we both know, or at least I hold the conceit, that some friendships survive that, even if not well tended. Maybe I’m wrong. Don’t know how much if at all I am any part of you, but you, my friend, are always a part of me.