Mackenzie and I met before Facebook was invented.
As the big brother of one of my son’s early childhood friends we agreed he must have been around ten when we first met.
Over the years there have been many interactions with the Boorer family. It’s a small community. Mackenzie was my daughter’s buddy at school when he was in grade 6 and she started kindy.
She was so excited to have him as a buddy she almost burst out of her skin. And a solid buddy he was.
When he was just 16 I employed him in my business as a School Based Trainee. Together we bitched about the ineffectiveness of the program (more likely I bitched and Mackenzie patiently listened) and I took great delight in seeing him grow over the years – not only in his work skills, but within himself.
My early memories of Mackenzie are of a young man with wisdom beyond his years. Our Sunday afternoon conversation really reminded me of that.
Mackenzie and I shared a home cooked meal at my place on a windy Sunday afternoon in spring. He brought what he called ‘apprentice friendly’ wine (I really liked that term), I threw together some of my staple thai dishes.
Now 21 Mackenzie is an apprentice hairdresser in my local community. He left for the UK soon after completing his HSC and discovered a whole world outside the tiny dot that is our community.
In the UK he thrived. By his own account not every day was rosy, however the stories he now holds have been the making of a changed man. Many of these stories are of serendipitous connections, they are love stories and filled with that magic that is the adventures of a young person leaving home for the first time.
I so strongly believe that it’s important for young people to spread their wings and see the world outside of their little patch (even though that day is looming for my young people and it scares the hell out of me).
Since his return to the Valley our conversations had been limited to hair salon chit chat. Still, it was one of these conversations that inspired the idea for the Meet My Friends project. On that day in the salon we were talking about connection, (not of the NBN kind) and how social media both facilitates and screws with that.
It was quite possibly the first time in my life I’ve realised (yep, like a sledgehammer) just how much the world is changing and even though I had felt a part of it I was actually so, so far out on the fringes that I may as well have dug myself a bunker and shifted on in.
I really treasured the time we had to sit over lunch and cover topics from work to friendships, dating, social media, connecting, building a family and dreams of the future. I was as shocked as I was delighted to learn that in the time Mackenzie claims as his own he likes to find a quiet spot in nature to fish – just not meditate, he doesn’t like meditating.
Through our conversation I reflected on the journey of parenting my own children and remembered that it’s my ‘job’ to walk beside them, not solve their issues for them. I realised that letting the develop those skills of resilience, not running in to rescue them will make them bigger people.
And if Mackenzie is any indication of the beautiful person that can be born of difficult times than the strategy works. Mackenzie thank you so much for kicking this journey off, it’s such an honour to call you friend.
#Meet My Friends is a project and personal challenge that I’ve set for myself to meet all of my 1,266 Facebook friends and spend at least half an hour connecting with each and every one of them. The commenced on 17 September 2018 and it has no time limits. The original post outlining the challenge is here