I have been blessed in many ways. One of which has been the presence of wonderful friendships throughout my life. Over the course of the last month, I’ve had three separate occasions when I’ve been able to spend hours talking to three of my oldest friends. People who have literally known me most of my life.
Each of these conversations was a reminder of how valuable our oldest friends are for our past, present and future selves.
The economist, Daniel Kahneman makes the distinction between our experiencing self and our remembering self. Our oldest friends help us bridge this gap by filling in the forgotten. Reminding us of events, experiences, and relationships that have receded from our memories. In those instances, they become real and alive for us again.
Beyond being honest brokers of lost memories, they play a vital role in our present. As life whirls by and the day-to-day obligations create a velocity that seems inescapable, they serve as a much needed pause button. When we take the time for old friends, the rest of the world falls away, allowing us to truly connect – gaining much needed perspective and counsel.
Finally, old friends are critical for our future. The vagaries of circumstance mean that some of us will face health challenges, economic uncertainty, and parenting struggles at different times and with different outcomes. These experiences become opportunities to both help and learn from each other. There are few people with whom we would trust what we value most than our dearest friends.
In spite of how valuable old friends are to our past, present and future selves, it has become too easy to let weeks, months, sometime years go by without meaningful contact.
Our lives become separated by geography, expectation and experiences. Connecting with old friends seems to lack the urgency of now that beckons our daily lives. Then we blink and can’t believe “how long it’s been.”
Take it from me, just an hour with an old friend – on the phone, over dinner or if your lucky an extended visit with their family, can be invigorating and transformative. Of course, time with old friends also can lead to a lot of new fun.
I hope you can find the time to reach out to an old friend today.