A few weeks ago I ran into an old friend. Someone with whom I had lost contact more than 17 years ago.
I didn’t actually run into her, not in the literal sense of going into your neighbourhood grocery store, seeing a familiar face from your past, stalking them across the aisles while constantly asking yourself “is it/isn’t it?” And then finally plucking up the courage to go up to them and ask, somewhat sheepishly, “are you…”, all the while praying that they are who you think they are while rehearsing your retreat if they turn out not to be good ol’ what’s-his-face.
And then when it turns out that they are, in fact, exactly who you imagined them to be, you spend the next seven minutes excitedly hugging them with the passion usually reserved for the reunion with your twin from whom you were separated at birth.
No, this was a different kind of running into. This thing called the Internet did all the work and by chance it provided me with an e-mail address to which I fired off a message saying mundane things like “I sure hope you are who I think you are.”
To my pleasant surprise I received a reply telling me that she is exactly who I thought and that we should chat on the phone some time.
I waited a few minutes, enough to allow “some time” to pass and then I picked up the phone and called not quite knowing what one says to someone after a 17 year hiatus.
And it was a magical moment. The strands of friendship quickly reconnected and, while our lives have gone in very different directions over these 17 years, just the act of getting caught up, revisiting history, inquiring after others who neither of us have seen over this time period and becoming current in where our lives are today was a wonderful, heart-warming and highly enjoyable experience.
We live far apart, in different cities, and may never see each other again yet we ended the conversation with an agreement to stay in touch a few times each year because for both of us the enjoyment of the conversation will be worth repeating at least that often.
And then, believe it or not, the Internet did it again. This thing called Face Link for Twits contacted me to say that an old school friend from a previous century had found me, was following me, wanted to be my friend and was inviting me to get connected.
And so we did. And while I have not thought of him in many, many years I now know that he lives in Brisbane, has two grown kids, three grandchildren and a dog named Hound. Oh, and a wife named Sarah to whom he has been married for many years.
I learned more about him, and have spent more time interacting with him, than I recall ever doing all those years ago when we were attending the same school.
And I really am glad that he took the time to contact me. It is such a good feeling to bring old friends back into your life and while the relationship with them may always be long-distance, the feelings of rekindled friendships transcend large geographic spaces.
And a few days ago I had breakfast with two other friends. These are newer friends. I did some work in the organization in which they toil and while the project has ended the friendship has not.
We have a standing date. We meet on the same date every second week, at the same place, sit at the same table and order the same meal.
We do this because we want to. This is not a forum to discuss work; this is a time just to discuss stuff.
And to enjoy each other’s company because we do. We aren’t close friends but we are good friends and I have a sense that this friendship will continue at the same place, with the same food for a long time.
As the oldest (and unquestionably wisest) of the three I naturally assume a gubernatorial role in shaping the direction of our conversations and I am convinced it is this leadership that has caused this friendship to prosper.
So after our last breakfast meeting I began thinking about friendship. And how important it is. And how, in the final analysis, our happiness is directly proportional to the quality of relationships we have with others.
In order to fully understand the importance of anything, we need to compare it to something else and so I began comparing friendships to money.
And I experienced some interesting, invaluable insights into what friendship really means.
We don’t need a lot of friends to have wonderful friendships. Sometimes just one, or two, or a few are enough. It seems with money, no matter how much we have, it’s never enough.
We don’t pay tax on friendships. We don’t have to send a portion of our friends off somewhere else so someone else can waste them.
We don’t strive to accumulate friends so that we will have them in the future.
We can enjoy our friends just by being with them. Being with money is not very exciting unless we do something with it.
True friends are always there when you need them. Money? Not so much.
We don’t have to show our friends off so people will think highly of us. A lot of money seems to get used to buy stuff in order to impress others.
Not for a moment am I suggesting that money is not important. It is. We need it to live.
But I also think we need friends. The quality of our lives is not determined by how much money we have. It is absolutely determined by the relationships we have.
And as we have discussed so many times before, we only ever do one thing. We do what is important to us in the moment.
And I think we should all make it very important to develop friendships. I think our lives will be far more fulfilled if we focus our energies on quality relationships.
I have been blessed by the many wonderful friends I have.
Although, to be honest, between you and me, there are a few I would happily trade in for cash.
Till we read again.
P.S. I will be doing a book signing of my book Life Sinks or Soars – the choice is yours tomorrow (Sunday, February 27th) at Self Connection, 4611 Bowness Road. If you have time to drop by, please do. It’s a terrific store to spend some time browsing in. If you would like to order the book you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here and those friendly folks at Self Connection will rush one out to you.