Gratitude Monday

When I was growing up, there were a few kids my age that I went to school with from kindergarten all the way through high school graduation. I went to a small school; my graduating class in high school was only 50 students. Probably at least a quarter of those kids were friends and acquaintances I’d had for 10+ years. Even so, I haven’t maintained any of those relationships since graduation. I still run into people on occasion, but that isn’t a relationship. I don’t know their lives, their families, none of that. They’re mostly ghosts.

I’ve reached a point now where the people I know around Missoula — some merely acquaintances, some a little more than that, and others genuine friends — are some of the longest running relationships I’ve ever had (outside of family, a couple marriages, and one obnoxious mutant offspring). These are mostly artistic relationships, people I started playing shows with back when I first started playing live around Missoula again in the late 90s. Hell, Jimmy, the guy who plays guitar in my band, and I have been rocking together essentially non-stop since 2000. I’ve seen his family grow up . . . hell, I’ve seen HIM grow up. Other music friends have married and started families as well. Most of them have, in fact. And I see them fairly often around town, at various functions we all seem to gather that, or via social media.

I’m grateful for what all this has brought to my life. Maybe what I’m grateful for is how playing music has enriched me. No, I never got rich, never got to do a lot of the things I hoped to (but I ain’t done yet!), and hardly anyone will ever hear the music we make. But it’s filled my life with people and experiences. I’ve met people I feel like I will know and be friends with forever, and continue to do so regularly. When ghosts from the past rise up and seem shocked that I still play, this is the reason I will give them for why I do.

I’m equally grateful that writing, which has eclipsed music as my primary creative outlet, appears to be doing much the same. Friends at home, and friends scattered all around the country that I can visit on my travels. Who can really ask for more from a practice of any kind?


Author: Chris

Chris La Tray is a writer, a walker, and a photographer. He is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives in Missoula, MT.

10 thoughts on “Gratitude Monday”

  1. You seem to have a variety of circles that keep you busy and engaged – I rely mostly on my internet friends for that kind of stimulation, I wish I had in real life. Definitely something to be grateful for!

    1. April, I’d say the bulk of my interaction is still online. Outside of the house, the only people I do stuff with fairly regularly are the guys at band practice. But over the years, the little bit of stuff I DO engage in publicly has slowly built a nice little circle of people I dig. It’s taken time, but it seems to have just happened.

  2. I admire you, Chris. The ability to still reach out and make more friends. I’ve become much, much more private outside the social media. My main excuse is my work and that family keeps me busy.

    1. Thanks, Dave. You know you’re one of the people I talk about when I say writing seems to be doing the same thing for me, don’t you? We’ll swap lies over beers one day, just you wait and see. . . .

  3. David’s comment speaks for a lot of men whose work and family take up the lion’s share of their lives. Work itself may offer a kind of social life, but as soon as you change jobs, lose a job, or retire, friends made there disappear. I’m lucky to say I have one old friend from college who moved out to Palm Springs from Chicago when he retired, and it’s good to have coffee with him and his friends every 3-4 weeks.

  4. And I will pay for the first beer and lie, Chris. You know, I guess, my old day job and moving around so much had a lot to do with saying goodbye and meaning goodbye. I have a small circle of friends and family and prefer it that way.

    And good point, Ron. Publishing and a three-year-old take up a lot of time. And I’m ok with that.

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