Remember the excitement of going on a field trip in elementary school? Hopping on a big yellow school bus, no seat belts, and a crumbled brown bag lunch. You’re assigned a buddy and a number to help the chaperones keep track of even the most rambunctious and curious kid. The buddy system is simple, you watch out for your buddy and your buddy watches out for you. So simple even a kindergartner could do it. If all goes as planned, everyone makes it home safely and in one piece. My favorite childhood field trip was to the Lawry’s California Center, their official spice packing plant. The Center closed its doors in 1992, but the memory is sealed with a smile in my mind.
According to Wikipedia, the buddy system is a procedure in which two individuals, the "buddies", operate together as a single unit so they can monitor and help each other. What a beautiful idea.
I made a new buddy last month named Katie. Actually, she’s an old acquaintance I’ve reconnected with through social media. I went to high school with Katie. We weren’t friends but friendly, hanging out in different circles sometimes overlapping at a school function, a party, the quad, a football game, or a casual hello as we passed in the hallways. To be honest, I don’t remember much other than who her friends were, her stunning model looks, and long blond hair.
Facebook suggested I should be friends with Katie. I clicked my please, please, please be my friend invitation into the stratosphere, and to my relief she accepted. What came next was jaw-dropping. In a private message, Katie shared she is an 8-year survivor of stage 4 brain cancer. I’m a 7-year survivor of stage 4 oral cancer. An instant connection led to a long lunch where we swapped war stories, compared scars and frustrations, shared photos of our kids who were waaaaay too young to go through this, caught up on life since high school, reminisced about the past, and remembered fellow classmates whose lives ended too soon. We cried about what was lost and laughed about what was gained. Parallel lives helped us understand each other in a way no one else possibly could.
Katie is kind and funny, a true force of nature, a timeless beauty even more gorgeous than I remember, and I’m grateful to have her back in my life. We may not be BFF’s and that’s okay. It’s a relief and a comfort to find someone who just gets me, or at least gets what I’ve been through. No explanations necessary and you know what…I will look out for her, she will look after me, and that’s what the buddy system is all about.
Each of us has our own version of the buddy system:
What if we replace the phrase buddy system with a support group, sponsor, counselor, friend, champion, companion, soulmate, confidante, ally, spouse, a circle of support, or someone who’s simply got your back? Whomever that person just gets it, gets you, and it’s mutual.
My small but might buddy system is filled with exceptional human beings. One on one we have wiped away each other’s tears, laughed so hard we peed in our pants, broken bread, drank too much, finished one too many ice cream pints in one sitting, gotten lost, gotten found, shared milestones, celebrated life, mourned death, sat in the silence, talked until the wee hours of the night, and a lifetime of more. There is no one size fits all with my buddy system; each person brings something special and unique to our table.
Not all field trips are memorable, and the one Katie and I went on totally sucked! We road separate buses traveling on unpaved roads littered with potholes, detours, and unexpected hazards, not to mention terribly rigid and uncomfortable seats, but thankfully, we made it home safely and in one piece. I’m not sure where my next field trip will take me, but I’d be lucky to have Katie or an equally special buddy sitting beside me so we can both watch out for each other.
I DYP – Discovering My Power, My Way with the Buddy System. Who is part of your buddy system? Could the power of the Buddy System work for you?
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