What Old Friends Can Teach You
Ok. So we’ve decided we’re not actually “old”. Even though it’s been 20 years, even though we were kids last time we saw each other. Kids, starting our lives after high school, branching out on our own for the first time, with the whole world laid out in front of us. We could do anything. Be anything. Live our dreams. Well, we’ve decided we’ve had lots of experiences in 20 years, but that even though here we are pushing 40 now, we’re not “old”. We’re not “old”. We’re not “old”.
I met up with two of my favourite people from high school last night. We found each other on Facebook, of course. We discovered we all lived in the same city. Not far from each other, in fact. It’s a wonder we’ve not run into each other before now.
These guys were two of my favourites because they had all the elements of good friends. They were smart. Funny. They were there when you needed them. They were guys. (Aside from a few exceptions, I didn’t really get along with girls so well back in high school. My guy friends were my comfort zone.)
Whenever you meet someone again after a long time apart, there’s always that piece inside of you that hopes that they haven’t changed that much. That little thing in the back of your head that says “Geez…what if they turned out to be a complete weirdo? What if I don’t like them? What if they don’t like me?” High school, all over again, eh.
How do you know a true friend? There are a handful of people in my life who I can truly say, that 50 years could pass, and when we meet again, it’s like we saw each other yesterday. The two friends I saw last night, fortunately, didn’t go weird on me. We all sat down at the table, and as the stories began, it really was like we just picked up the conversation where we left off. My friend Jon Swanson, when we met in person for the first time last Spring, told me that it’s a sign of true friendship. It’s just one continuous conversation. It could be across many miles (thanks to the Internet), or across many years. He told me that it’s true friendship, when miles and time don’t mean anything. I believe him even more now.
It comes down to stories. Everyone has a story. We told many last night. Talked about our relationships, complained about our old teachers, wondered what ever happened to…?, caught up on how our careers have gone, what kind of car we drive now. We even discovered some wacky small-world things. It’s amazing to learn peoples’ stories after a long time apart. Some things are expected (I always knew you’d end up doing such and such). Others come as more of a surprise. But it’s all down to story. Whether online or off, take the time to really listen, and learn peoples’ stories. It makes you a richer person, and you never know what new insights or ideas might be sparked by someone else’s tale.
It’s a small world after all. The Web is shrinking our world by the minute. We are more connected now than ever before, not only to new friends and new experiences, but to our past as well. We’ve all been on Facebook and found our old buddies, old boyfriends/girlfriends, even long lost relatives. Maybe not every single one of those people are people you’d want to spend time getting to know again. But we all have some who we’ve wondered more often about. When the opportunity arises to reconnect with those people, jump at it. Because bringing back old memories can not only show you how far you’ve come, it can also be very grounding.
There’s an old saying about roots and wings. I can’t remember it right now, but I can tell you, my wings are bigger because I am getting back in touch with my roots – the experiences that shaped me when I was young stay with me to this day, and when I look into the eyes of old friends, it’s like no time has passed – but I realize how much I’ve grown.
And, by the way, even though we’re not “old”, we’ve all decided we are aging marvellously. 🙂