On the intracoastal waterway of North Carolina lies a little seaside town my wife and I love to visit. Live oak trees with drooping Spanish moss drape the village in a shade from the sun, while ocean breezes offer a respite from the summer heat. And in these cold, dark days of winter, I do plenty of daydreaming about this place which has seemed like a home away from home to us since our first visit.
Due to its situation on the intracoastal, boat is the primary mode of transportation. In fact, it’s not uncommon for its inhabitants to take their boats to neighboring towns just for dinner. Of course, the town has a marina right on Front Street and in the evenings, we often take strolls by these docks and admire the ships moored there. Boats of all shapes, sizes, and colors can be found. If one looks closely, each has a unique name and a “hailing port” or city the owners call home. These cities dot the globe. Some of the ships are sleek, shining, obviously quite new, and even more obviously incredibly expensive. Others have undoubtedly had years of wear and tear, but continue to serve their owners well.
These made-for-water ships remind me of some other unique ships—friendships. Take a look at your own marina of ships—your circle of friends—and you may even be surprised by its diversity. Some friendships have existed as long as you can remember, while others have just recently appeared. There are likely a close few upon which you can always depend and then others that remain untested by rough water. Some are flashy, stylish, and fun, yet still others show the signs of years of storms—the ones you can count on in the tempest of life. Without these friendships, we’d doubtless by left to navigate our ocean of existence alone, certain to drown.
And in our little southern hideaway, a ship works can be found as a prominent feature along the waterfront. Here, expert craftsmen still build and repair wooden ships using the ancient methods to create seafaring vessels. How do you create and maintain friendships? With the same care and attention to detail as these professional shipbuilders? If not, it’s time to join their ranks as an expert friendship builder.
Just exactly what that entails is different for each builder and each friend, but take these few tips. Just like the marina, don’t restrict yourself to one type of friendship. There is so much to be learned from friendships of all kinds. Second, don’t allow yourself to be drawn to “here today, gone tomorrow” friendships. Some folks unfortunately don’t always have the best intentions when they join the ranks of your friendships. These “pirate ships” can prey on us during our vulnerable times and leave us far worse when they sail on. And finally, don’t fail to maintain those old wooden ships which have stood the tests of time. Those long-ago formed friendships still require our time and effort to maintain. Take time to show you care and be conscientious in your friendship building, and you’ll find yourself crafting ships that hold water. In the meantime, remember one of my favorite quotations: “There are good ships; there are wood ships; there are ships that sail the sea; but the best ships are friendships, and may they always be.” Merry Christmas my friends!