OUR NEWLY-MINTED high school and college graduates will soon realize life can be difficult, frenzied, unfair and exhausting, and that’s on the good days.

Simply keeping up with the demands of home, family and career can leave one feeling like a marathoner on an ever-quickening treadmill. It’s easy to fall into a mindless existence where routines are embraced in the name of expediency, where life becomes a daily variation on a single theme.

Charles Schulz, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip, had a philosophy that stressed the importance of never forgetting our friends. He told us that our achievements will be forgotten, our accolades and awards will be buried with us.

Schulz challenged us to list a few teachers and mentors who have aided our journey through school, name three friends who have helped us through a difficult time, name five people who have taught us something worthwhile, think of a few people who have made us feel appreciated and special, and think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

The people who make a difference in our life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards. They simply are the ones who care the most. Use this special time to remember the people who made a difference in your life or who you keep close in your heart. 

To expand on this thought, here is a story passed along to me about a grandfather who had some advice for his graduating grandson and granddaughter. He told them to “never forget your friends.”

As they sat on the porch sipping ice tea, he talked to them about adult life, marriage, responsibilities and obligations. He cast a clear, sober look on them and offered this bit of wisdom.

“Whatever you do in the years ahead, never forget your friends. They will become more important as you get older.

“Regardless of how much you love your family and the children you happen to have, you will always need friends. Remember to go out with them occasionally, do activities with them, call them.”

What strange advice the boy and girl seemed to be thinking. Here they were as young adults, with a degree in hand and they were thinking they would soon have a spouse and family of their own. Wouldn’t that be everything they would need to make a good life?

As the years came and went, the grandchildren obeyed their grandfather; they kept in touch with their friends and annually increased their number. Over the years, they became aware that their grandfather knew what he was talking about.

In as much as time and nature carry out their designs and mysteries on a man and woman, friends are the bulwarks of life. After 60 years of life, here is what they learned.

Time passes, life goes on and distance separates. Children grow up, cease to be children and become independent. And to the parents, it breaks their heart.

Jobs come and go. Illusions, desires, and attraction weaken. People do not do what they should do. The heart breaks. The parents die. Colleagues forget the favors. The races are over.

But true friends are always there, no matter how long or how many miles away they are. A friend is never more distant than the reach of a need, intervening in your favor, waiting for you with open arms or blessing your life.

When we started this adventure called life, we did not know of the incredible joys or sorrows that were ahead. We did not know how much we would need from each other.

As your journey begins, remember to love your parents, take care of your children, keep a group of good friends and strive to make them proud.

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COLUMNIST KEVIN Frisch, managing editor of the Daily Messenger in New York, offers a few ideas on how to reduce stress. He said we should challenge ourselves, break a habit or shake up our daily schedule.

1. Find a spot in your backyard or at a park or anywhere outside and simply stand there for five minutes observing nature.

2. Strike up a conversation with a stranger. It might just change your life.

3. Find 15 minutes to listen to music, not as background while you’re doing something else, but with your full attention. Any style of music will do.

4. Call a friend or relative you haven’t spoken with in several months or years. This might be the best thing you’ve ever done.

5. Read a columnist whose politics you disagree with. If you’re doing that right now, thank you. Listen for a few minutes to a talk show host whose views you find repulsive.

6. Select and read a new book — or any work, really — at random from your local library.

7. Try a food you hated as a child, just to see if your taste has changed.

8. Find a reason to compliment someone you don’t normally get along with. You might find out you have more in common than you ever thought possible.

9. Pay it forward. Do something nice for someone and never tell them.