By Randy Snyder

Most of our readers will recall the 1986 song of the year sung by Dionne Warwick, written by Burt Bacharach and Carol Bayer Sager, “That’s What Friends Are For.” Lately I played the song on You tube, paid attention to the words and was inspired to write about the importance of friends in our lives, what they are for and my personal observations as it relates to friends. Many of us live in an unusual residential environment in Rumbling Bald and the surrounding area. We also live in very unusual times in our lives and moreover in the history of our nation. These phenomena make friends more important than ever in our lives!

Here are excerpts I selected from the song that were meaningful to me personally:

Keep smiling, keep shining” – A winning smile is essential to winning new friends and keeping old friends and something you can show to everyone.

For good times, for bad times, I’ll be on your side forever more, —“That’s what friends are for” – Some days friends need you more and other times less, whatever, wherever and whenever, real friends are there for you without exception!

This place where we live, the natural landscape, the space for the most part between our individual homes, make neighbors seem more distant than living in suburbia. More urban locations should make the value of friendship more important. I believe these conditions make genuine friendship and remembering “what friends are for” even more important to our personal welfare and wellness. If we remember the key actions and expectations of genuine friendship, we will exercise in words and action what friends are for.

Contemplate the following and evaluate your activities and treatment of others and with your chosen friends as well as the way your friends treat you and get involved in your life:

  1. Do your friends accept you, your values, your beliefs “as you are” without trying to impose their values, beliefs on you?
  2. If you honor the genuine friendship others show towards you, you must be a genuine friend to them if you are going to keep them as genuine and good friends in the long run.
  3. Stand by your values, your standards, your beliefs, thus your lifestyle is who you are. Do not compromise your standards to “win” someone’s friendship.
  4. Friends are there for you no matter what, even when minor conflicts arise. Simply question each other face to face instead of posturing negatively when in disagreement. They honor who you are.
  5. Friends personify ‘paying it forward’ with random acts of kindness, blessings and ongoing communications without expectation of reciprocation.
  6. Friends are there for encouragement, gratitude and want nothing but the best for you.

There comes a time in our lives as we age when each of us decides who really matters, who remain as cherished friends. The key to having good friends is to be a good friend! We all need to honor ourselves when picking and keeping friends and deciding who really matters, who always will and who never did.