I met an old friend last week. Someone I used to work with some six years ago. Someone I hear about often since we worked together. Someone who I was always very impressed with. Someone who I used to meet and interact with regularly…and occasionally even had chance to work on projects with.
I knew we were going to meet up again. And despite the relatively long time that had passed, and the relatively infrequent connection that existed when we worked together, I was still excited. And surprised…I felt surprised as I headed to our meeting…surprised I was so excited!
We had an excellent time – despite the length of time since we last spoke – our discussion were engaging, thought provoking and great fun. We recounted events and we described places. We caught up on people we knew who were doing great and different things…and we even reflected on people we knew who we miss. We reminisced about our joint history…and we compared our more recent independent histories.
I am often asked if I miss working for my previous company. My answer is always the same. “No – not at all. How can I miss a company? But I do miss the people”. People I worked with every day. People I learned with and shared moments with. I miss people.
I tried to keep in touch with people. I hated the idea that someone or some people who meant so much to me – people with who I went through so much – could somehow just fade into memories. It feels so unfair. Dishonourable even.
But no matter what I wanted to do or tried to do…it simply wasn’t practical. Another group of people appear. New friends who reward and delight me. Amuse and teach me. Help me learn and grow. Inevitably new friends become our focus.
And then, every so often, I have opportunity to meet an old friend, and despite all my fears, I only experience pleasure and happiness. There is never any resentment on either side. Never any unfriendly feelings.
I am not sure I really understand this…but I am grateful for it. I realise it’s nothing specific to me – we all experience the same feelings – the highs and even highers – when we meet old friends.
My old friend and I talked about different places and times. We talked about different versions of ourselves. We talked about important and impactful times in our joint history. I realised as I left that in many ways I felt closer to my old friend at that moment than I probably ever had previously.
Friendships presumably can – or must – have a time. We all move on – as individuals, in families, at work. To assume that our friendships will stay the same over time would be unrealistic. And yet, despite time passing and events unfolding, it would seem that important friendships stay important to us. We just have to accept that our friendships take on different forms over time.
I think this is true. I know it is difficult. I believe it is harder (or is it easier) with important friendships born through significant shared experiences.
My friend and I shared our contact details and agreed we would keep in touch moving forward…but even now, I am not sure I know what we will do differently from what we have been doing over the last six years.
But I do know that I am looking forward to the next time we meet…whether that is six weeks, months or years. And also to my next meeting with an old and important friend…
…whoever you are and wherever we may meet…