In case you were wondering, the expression “it takes a village” apparently originated from an African proverb emphasizing the importance of community in raising a child.  It is also the title of a book written by Hillary Clinton more than 10 years ago addressing the goal of enabling children to become smart, capable, and resilient adults.  Good stuff. (Confession:  I didn’t actually read the book!)

Anyway, the expression got me thinking, and here’s my question:  Do we still get to have a village even if we’re no longer children and/or no longer raising children?  I hope so, because I definitely have a village of my own.

My village obviously consists of people whose professional advice I seek (doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, therapists, hairdressers, and manicurists).  On the subject of seeking advice, I’ve written several articles about asking for help and the challenges we connect to those requests.  However, that’s not what I’m talking about here.  

Instead, I’m talking about the village of friendship, and how grateful I am to align myself with people who understand my definition of being a friend.  To me:  

Being a friend means showing interest in the things that are going on in someone else’s life. 

Being a friend means being able to listen to complaints about aging parents without feeling resentment that at least his parents are still alive.

Being a friend means realizing that although you desperately want to, sometimes you just can’t fix what’s wrong with her job, her marriage, her hair, or her mother-in-law. 

Being a friend means offering to help out, whether it’s with childcare, running errands, or bringing the wine AND the dessert.  
Being a friend means checking in to say hello with no agenda or commitment connected to it.
Being a friend means listening without judgment and offering support without obligation.
Enough for now.  I know this is a lofty list, and I also know that I need to be a friend before I can have a friend.  Admittedly, I am a work in progress.  
That work includes the mission to expand my village.  I’ve been inspired recently by several people who have reached out to me, even though we haven’t seen or talked to each other in months and sometimes in years, simply to say hello, or that they’ve been thinking about me.  I felt pure joy, and I realized how little an effort it would take for me to pay that joy forward. And now, that is my mission.
I’m going to challenge each one of you to scroll through your contact list and reach out to every name that made you smile when reading it.  Send a text, or an email, telling those people that you were thinking about them.  Make sure you say you’re not expecting a reply, just a smile in return.  Let’s see if we can counteract our political, financial, and personal worries with a bit of happiness. 
It takes a village.