Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Making the Effort for Friends

     Given the busy lives that most of us lead, it's easy to lose touch with friends.  It takes energy and effort to carve out time to connect with people, whether by phone, in writing, or in person.  Today I made the effort to expand upon my relationship with two different old and special friends.
     Back in 1995, I participated in an Outward Bound wilderness adventure in the mountains of Montana.  It was an amazing trip and I got to know a great group of people from around the country.  One of those people was a guy who I've spoken with by phone every few years since then but have never again seen.  We recently reconnected through LinkedIn, and when I learned that he had moved to the San Franscisco area, I agreed to visit him on my travels.  Since I was on a vacation in the western part of the country, I did just that.  Though we haven't seen each other in nearly 17 years, it's been great to be together.  Certainly it would have been much easier to stay in my normal routines and let the relationship fade away; but I'm continually reminded of how enriching these relationships are . . . if I make the time to cultivate and nurture them.
     The second half of this story is about another old friend who I met in 1989.  That summer, our local YMCA was bringing in a group of international students to be camp counselors and they needed housing.  My wife and I agreed to be a host family and we had the pleasure of getting to know a great 18-year old kid from Sweden.  He ended up coming back to be with us again the next summer, and we've been good friends since then, even taking a family vacation to visit him in Stockholm a number of years ago.
     This morning, I noticed that this friend had a Facebook post noting that he was in San Francisco at a conference.  Amazed at the coincidence that we were both in the same city, I found a way to contact him and then arranged to meet him at his hotel.  It was so good to be with him again and to rekindle our long friendship.
     These relationships, and others like them do take effort.  Taking the time to call an old college friend, tracking down someone I haven't seen in years, or arranging the logistics to visit someone, takes work.  It's always easier not to make the effort.  Yet, my life is better for having friends like these, and I'd like to think that theirs is as well. 

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