I’ve found this beautiful little cheatcode for building friendships, for keeping those important relationships alive and open, for maintaining connections. It feels like magic. Maybe everybody already knows about this but I’m just beginning to appreciate it: the power of ritual, shared ritual. Maybe that’s the wrong word. Maybe it’s habit, or routine.
But here’s what I mean:

  • every Saturday morning, I meet my best friend at a walking trail at 7:30. We walk for about 5 miles. It takes a little over an hour. We catch up. We talk. We cry. We laugh. Then we get in our cars and drive away to our busy lives, responsibilities, challenges.
  • every Sunday morning, I drive to a hiking trail and meet another dear friend and we hike. We usually hike for 7 or 8 miles. We talk about work, about family, about the future, about what we’re learning in therapy, about our frustrations and fears, about our relationships, our hopes, our memories, our insights. Then we get in our cars and drive away.
  • every morning, I get a text from my Dad with his Wordle score. At some point later in the day, I’ll use a break to hop on Wordle and text my score back. We give each other little thumbs-up encouragement or express frustration over a particularly tough word. That’s it. That’s the whole ritual.

    There are some friends, dear friends, that I don’t communicate with as often as I’d like. If we see each other in person, or one of us picks up the phone, the connection is instantly there. But I miss the sense of that connection the rest of the time – it feels like it’s waiting, present, but not deepening and growing. I’m realizing that, in those friendships, there’s no shared ritual. Our points of connection depend on one of us having the time and energy to make the effort. It’s okay that our conversations, or our times together, are sporadic. Sometimes that’s simply all we have available. But I’m going to think about ways to create simple, shared rituals in those friendships, too.