The two most trumpeted certainties in life we all know are death and taxes. Another adage I have been thinking about is "you can pick your friends but not your family or neighbour".
Families usually sort themselves out in time, some keeping away from each other except for funerals and weddings.
Many get on very well, are actually loving friends but live their own lives apart mostly, getting together being a shared pleasure.
There are those that live in each other's pockets with all the dramas, tears, stress and love that causes. It is all good, it is what makes a family work; there is no right rule about how to co-exist with your family members.
Families are always there. When the chips are down, the job is lost, the marriage has ended, death or bad health has broken our lives it is really only family that most of us can rely on either for strong practical support of just to be there and listen.
Something to be remembered if one is an ambitious, career-minded person. Work is just that, a job at the end of the day, nothing more, nothing less, a means of funding a life.
The flash job and all the perks can disappear in a twinkle, family does not.
Some friends come and go but true friends stay in our memory all our lives and will also always be there for us, helping where they can or just offering an ear.
I consider myself lucky as I still have friends from my boyhood as a 5-year-old and friends and ex-comrades from my policing days who understand me and who I understand, a few whose lives have been changed forever by their experiences, needing that ongoing friendship and understanding as a support.
I may not see a friend for years but when we do meet we just carry on as before, totally getting each other and being there, not judging.
Neighbours can be great, there for you if needed, polite, friendly, not imposing. You can ask favours of each other and socialise occasionally or they can be a nightmare ranging from poking their noses into your business to being just awful people that, short of selling up, you are stuck with seemingly forever.
Also when neighbours fall out life becomes uncomfortable.
To avoid such issues means having nothing to do with the people living around you, something nowadays that seems to be not that unusual in some places.
We have lived in our house for 33 years and have seen neighbours come and go.
Some have been wonderful, others interesting.
We are always polite to our neighbours, say hello, no need to be unpleasant or to ignore them if they are out and about. We know we can approach one or two if we need help and they will do what they can, as we would for them.
Our neighbourhood is busy, mainly filled with people who work, not that many children nowadays, and older retired people who are still quite active.
No one is unfriendly that I am aware of but we do tend, as a neighbourhood, to keep to ourselves as, well, everyone is busy nowadays. I know the names of very few of my neighbours.
If I return in my memory to the old family home in Lower Hutt I can still name the families, including the individuals in those families for a radius of about 750m from home.
In the 50s, 60s and 70s, neighbourhoods were communities. We mostly all got on, probably knew too much about each other, chatted, socialised, argued, helped each other, babysat kids, and visited each other.
Kids lived in each other's backyards, fed lunch by busy mums if they thought your mum needed a break, were dobbed in to parents by neighbours when misbehaving. That was always a downside if you were a kid.
The type of neighbourhood we live in is, I am glad to say, perhaps not the norm in New Zealand nowadays.
I have spent some time, well, a few phone calls, some coffee meetings with old friends and some Facebook chat, on deeply researching this subject and there are still thriving, busy neighbourhoods out there where everyone knows each other, helps each other, looks after properties when people are away, feed each other's animals and, generally act like small communities of people have always done.
People gather naturally, we are herd animals, living in communities since the dawn of mankind.
How we choose to do that is what makes us the kind of people we are. I really like people but I also like my own space. I make sure that I do get out and mingle as it is the healthy human thing to do. We actually need each other.