Let's not pick up where we left off
This week I was thinking about something people say when they are getting together with a friend they rarely see. They comment, “She’s the kind of friend I can go months without talking to and we pick up right where we left off.” It mades me wonder about their relationship. For some reason it doesn't sit right with me when I hear that expression. I have a friend who moved away last year and we’ve been intentional about staying connected. We ‘walk’ about 3 or 4 times a week. We leave our respective houses at 6:30 am and talk on the phone for an hour while we walk. There is a lot going on - her mom’s going through chemo, her dad isn’t well, her kids are almost teens, my daughter’s having a baby, I’m working on a new project, we both read a lot and then there is faith, politics, money and sometimes even sex. We have so much to talk about I often sit outside for another ten minutes after my walk finishing the call. We both have full lives. And technology makes it cheap and convenient for us to connect. I was trying to imagine going six months without talking and ‘picking up where we left off.’ So much happens in six months. We all have a lot going on. I know. I get it. I have friends I only see occasionally. And when we get together it’s usually an update on each other’s lives. It is fun and I love hearing about what has been happening. And we genuinely care about each other but let’s face it in this age of technology if you aren’t talking for months, you aren’t really that close are you? As part of the course I am teaching right now (it will be available again in the new year if you missed it) we are working through our values. It is something I recommend that you do every 3-5 years. Our values change as we change and mature. And since living by your values is essential if you want to be aligned with what matters to you in your life - taking some time to work through them is important. Part of my process is to start with a big list and narrow it down by clustering values with similar meanings but slightly different nuances. Then I narrow down the list. One cluster included: relationships/friendships/family/connection/ dependability/encouragement. I sat with the list for about a week trying to narrow it down to one word and then it clicked. What matters to me is connection. I want deep connections with the people in my life. It didn’t surprise me that when I looked at the etymology of the word relation the word connection was there. Our relations are the connections we have by blood. Then I thought about what that value of connection looks like in my life. I don’t have to see someone all the time to be connected to them but it certainly helps. And it helps explain why I would rather have dinner with a couple of friends than go to a party. It explains why I have been really looking forward to a 15K hike this weekend with a friend I haven't spent nearly enough time with in the last few months. And it explains why I’ve let friends drift away when I realized I was the only one doing the work keeping us connected. I now see them as ‘loose connections.’ Johann Hari in his book, Lost Connections: Uncover the real causes of depression - and the unexpected solutions writes, "It was only a long time into talking with these social scientists that I realized that every one of the social and psychological causes of depression and anxiety have something in common. They are all forms of disconnection. They are all ways in which we have been cut off from something we innately need but seem to have lost along the way." Hari identifies nine forms of disconnection and they include: disconnection from other people and disconnection from meaningful values. We need meaningful connections in our lives. We need to know that others care about us. Stop right now and ask yourself if there is someone in your life you have been meaning to call or email. If there is find a way to connect. You can text, call, email, or really make their day and send them a letter or a card by post. You never know what a difference it can make. In a world where it is easy to connect with so many people online many people are feeling more disconnected than ever. There’s no need to go months without talking and picking up where we left off. Let’s forge stronger connections and healthier communities.