Last weekend, I went to a children’s performance held in a church and had a momentary wobble of claustrophobia. The modern church where the show was held had no windows. No view to outside. No opening to the horizon, to the sky, to the world beyond the beige concrete walls.

It reminded me of a conversation I’d had earlier in the week with an acquaintance. We were talking about friendship and meeting new people. She mentioned how she had been chatting with a woman that she’d met a few times, how they seemed to have a few connections, how the woman suddenly said: Oh we’re not taking on any new friendships right now. We’ve already got our group of friends.

The sad thing is that I’ve been told this myself here in Australia and other people I know have had similar experiences. This was not something I’d ever heard in Canada, France or the UK.

Is this just Australia or is it happening all over?

Initially, I thought these people who refused to test out new friendships were just odd. People who haven’t travelled or moved beyond circles of their youth.
Then I started to hear a certain arrogance in that statement. Did they really think that they were so wonderful and diverse that every person they met would turn into a close friend?

As I thought about it more, I made some excuses for them. I wondered if they felt so overwhelmed with life and work and other commitments that they had nothing in reserve for themselves or other human beings.

More recently, however, I hear fear in that statement. I don’t have time for new friends says:  I like the way things are and I’m afraid you might change something in my life. I’m afraid you might make me look at myself differently. I’m afraid you might make me question myself. It says: I’m afraid of change.

If people aren’t open to even the possibility of a new friendship, how are they to lead a vibrant and dynamic life?

How open are they to new ideas?

Yet, as I mentioned earlier this week with philosopher Alain de Botton, for many of us belonging dwells in the simplicity and acceptance of deep friendship.
And friendship comes from unfamiliar and unexpected places as Canadian author Judy McFarlane found out when she met Grace, a 23-year-old woman with Down Syndrome. Becoming friends with Grace and helping her write and publish her first book not only led McFarlane to ”unexpected moments of delight” but it changed her too.If we don’t make friendship, connections, and other humans a priority, we will be just like that windowless church, sitting on a hill overlooking the horizon of life and unable to see anything except the empty walls inside.Cinderella-Grace, Vancouver Princess by Grace Chen and
Writing with Grace; A Journey Beyond Down Syndrome by Judy McFarlane are both available from