I’ve never been the kind of person who longed for company. As an only child, my parents taught me to appreciate me, to enjoy and make do with being alone, to savor the silence and to find creative ways to have fun with three guests who will always be present: me, myself and I.

Books, music, nature, animals and writing would become my best friends and they remain so today. Of course, like all humans, it’s natural for me to desire having someone else in my space, walking along with me — someone with whom I can laugh, cry and reveal my shortcomings without fear. However, that’s the slippery slope with which we must all contend and tread with caution — recognizing the few who merit being included on our exclusive and necessarily short, yes short list of honest to goodness friends.

Be honest. A friend, a real “ride ’til we die,” “I’ve always got your back” friend, is someone who’s extremely rare and should be counted as a gift, a jewel of unfathomable value — priceless and irreplaceable. Thus, when people have let me down on a routine basis becoming “ghost” when I needed them most, taking care of their own desires before considering my needs, I’ve had to grow up — “man up” if you will. Some so-called friends are experts at making the best of and taking full advantage of our relationship and benefits when the harsh winter season unleashes it’s cold temperatures and desolate vistas — conditions which lead even the least intelligent person to seek the warmth of another body — anyone’s body — until spring returns so they can frolic off to explore greener pastures and brand-new personalities for them to conquer.

These thoughts have invaded my moments of solitude as of late in the midst of a changing season — a message from the Creator that I have received with gratitude, careful to avoid using that word of ultimate denial, “but,” in my efforts to fully understand the truth that has been revealed to me. As a result, I have been compelled to look more closely at the road on which I am traveling, the destiny that I know is mine and mine alone and to take a fresh look at the roadblocks that have deterred me — roadblocks, people, places and things, that I have created or allowed to grow — others that I have invited to travel along with me.

With this new revelation, I’m now in the process of “cutting the fat” as my Daddy used to advise. Friends who enjoy the ride with their feet propped up for comfort but who never get out of the car when there’s a flat tire, when the engine is laboring, when unexpected weight has been added to the load making it even more difficult to keep the vehicle on the right path, are the kinds of people who need to be put out of the car with the quickness. Afterwards, don’t look in your rear mirror. They’ll make it. They’ll simply find another host — like all leeches are prone to do.

As for “sometimes” friends, relatives and extended family included, those on whom you can never depend but who always want and demand you to be there for them, they too must be removed from the list and left on the side of the road. Actually, while we tend to feel better about ourselves when we can boast about having an extensive list of friends, those blessed with wisdom and discernment recognize that the best list of the friends is one that’s so short you can count the names on one hand.

My destiny belongs to me and no one else and it’s mine to secure or to leave unrealized like a withered flag blowing in the wind on the grounds of a long-abandoned fortress. The gifts God has given me are not community property. Further, no one can do the things that I can do or conceive the ideas and dreams that haunt me and for which I alone am best prepared to take from the land of hope to the universe of reality.

There are times when we allow others to romp with us in our playground. It’s fun for a moment. It’s almost idyllic for a season or two. But after it’s clear that they don’t quite fit or appreciate the parameters and limits of our playground, that’s the time to ask them to leave employing any means necessary to rid you of them: a gentle nudge, a warm kiss on the cheek, a solid “fist-bump” or a swift kick in the behind.

Children like to imagine the impossible and then believe it can never be achieved. Grown folks, those who have been through the fire and made it through, know that they know that they know, that those who are determined to reach their unique destiny must be willing to walk that road alone.

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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