Those who have been reading this blog for awhile (hi, Mom, Bill, and Nana!) know that the title “Bird in Your Hand” celebrates a philosophy of appreciating what I already have in world of abundant beauty and grace. When we think about the idiom “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” we realize that failure to appreciate the goodness we have already in our grasp might, in fact, cause us to lose everything. At least, that is the way I interpret it. Quite possibly we might overlook the goodness we have in pursuit of “more”—and this might be seen, to some, as simply ambition. And I agree: sometimes we have to strive beyond what we know to be good in order to clutch at something greater and in order not to settle. Yet I have never thought the owner of the hand in this idiom was implied to be successful: we know that birds in bushes seldom are caught and fly away all too elusively. He does not see the beauty right in front of him, and consequently, he loses it all.

Be thankful for what we have been given. That is the meaning of “Bird in Your Hand” to me.

Despite, and perhaps because of, my introverted personality, I have somehow gathered friends who, I now know, will be lifelong. They have stayed by me through thick and thin, showing unconditional loyalty even during my most vulnerable moments. I can be a difficult friend—although a fiercely loyal one—because I often feel close to people in my head and take for granted that they always know I love them. With maturity has come the understanding that I should, and also want to, express these feelings more readily and often. In this third decade of my life, cultivating and nourishing these friendships has become one of my absolute priorities. I wasn’t born knowing how to do this always, or how to let people I valued always see my imperfections.

The glorious thing about friends, though, is that true lifelong friends do not need to worry about pretense. That is a gift I am just starting to unwrap in my thirties. I can just be me—and whoa, my friends are still my friends.

My friends are birds in my hand.

Every once in awhile I am given one to add to those I already hold dear (friends from “recent” years—and “recent” to an introvert might be seven or eight years ago, ha!—you know I am talking about you). Like a true bird, the grace of friendship flutters toward us. Patience and gentleness make it stay.

In my twenties, I found that I was content to see my friends every once-in-awhile. I take even small interactions so much to heart that they last for a long, long time.  Now in my thirties, I feel as though I could never see them or look on them enough. What is different? I know how precious my friends really are. I know how quickly time actually goes. I know life promises nothing in length, for any of us.

My friend Emily has been my friend for over fifteen years. We whirled about in clubs and classes together, yet I think we’d both agree that, for a time, we were rather in a Seinfeld situation. Steve, Marguerite, and Emily were really close, and then we all hung out and had fun together. She was Steve’s “Best Woman” at his wedding, and she and Marguerite took a ladies’ trip to Australia. It’s kind of like when Elaine, George, and Kramer suddenly realize that none of them hang out together without Jerry. Yet in our later lives, Emily and I have had a chance to develop our own bond, to find our own step with one another, to enjoy thoroughly one-on-one time together. Every time we are together, we delight in finding deeper and deeper similarities and resonances.

Emily lives far away (well, far away in my world), but fortunately she still comes to see Dr. Perry, our beloved town dentist. Everyone loves Dr. Perry, and I know a few people who are loyal to him even after they’ve moved away. I was thankful that she was able to add us to her post-dentist plans this afternoon, and that I got to share more time with her. I loved our conversation, and her friendship is a beautiful gift to have.

Sarah and Emily, 2012

And looking into the past:

Summer mornings were full of tennis, 1998. Emily, David T., me, Steve

High school graduation practice, 1998. Angie, me, Emily, Rosa, Michelle

Mock Trial state level competition in Sacramento, 1998. Numair, Emily, me, Shil, Cari, Michelle

May the years only bring the opportunity for more. Emily, I am thankful for you and for your life.