This is an interesting word. For me it’s always meant someone who brings me back to earth, a reality check, someone by whom I can find comfort or place, or peace. The word actually is defined as “a test or criterion for the qualities of a thing”, it’s something- a stone- that was used to determine the purity of a precious metal (read: gold). For me it’s another word for a good friend. Someone who, even if they let you down they are still in your life. It’s not like they drop out of your realm of existence. I have a very few friends like that, well only a couple really, who I may not hear from in oh, maybe a year, but when we reconnect it’s like time never passed. We are essentially the same, whatever we are reconnecting for- a problem, a joy, just to talk. These people do not flatter, they do not lie, they do not manipulate or try to figure out what it is I “want” to hear. That’s why they are so important. They tell the truth and what I need to hear. And they are always right. We want what is best for each other, we have no agendas, no subversive motives.

And if they do let you down, maybe it’s me who needs to look at the disappointment. Maybe it’s something I need to redo, relearn, understand better. We are on the same wavelength, our radars read the same blips. Sometimes those blips are better handled with a friend like this. Sometimes when I do try to handle something on my own I find out the hard way I needed someone with me in it.

Family members can be touchstones. My brother is one. He and I have a history- our entire lives- together. So by virtue of what we lived through we have a basis of understanding we won’t have with anyone else. We lived through the function or dysfunction of our family and learned to use it for strength or how to laugh about it. My son is another. As he has grown into his depths he has learned to temper a lot of what he and I lived through with greater compassion, but we still laugh about things, too.

I guess touchstones, when they are people are not so much a thing that tells you the quality of a precious stone, they are the precious stone itself.