June 10, 2011

On the subject of friendship

celebrate little thingsThis week marked the advent of another birthday for me. I've said it before and I'll say it again : as you get older these things seem to come round quicker than ever before. When I was a kid it seemed like birthdays took forever to come round. Now I appear to have them three or four times a year.

It wasn't a landmark birthday. Not one that ends in an '0', nor even one that deserves a jewel-themed anniversary celebration, but it did end in a '5' so it drops me between two important birthday stools.

With the growing importance (and intrusion) of Facebook in people's life, the ability to send birthday wishes across the internet has become easier and easier. Back in the days when I was starting out in the world, cards had to be purchased, written, addressed and posted. If you got your timings wrong then you missed people's birthdays.

Nowadays it's just a case of checking Facebook, clicking 'Write on wall' and sending a few choice words to the recipient.

I'm very pleased to say that I received well over 30 such messages - which is far and above the number of cards I have ever received on any birthday since I was 8.

But what also struck me as interesting was the longevity of the relationship I have with a lot of these people. My best friend Jon took great pleasure in reminding me that he and I have been friends for over 30 years and I was his best man 21 years ago. My younger sister has been in my life for over 40 years (and she won't thank me for telling you that). I received an email from a non-facebook friend who was my best friend when I lived in Australia back in the late 70's. He reminded me that we've known each other for almost 35 years.

There are numerous other examples of people I've known and who have been in my life for decades:

  • Patricia, If you're reading this, I've known you for almost 20 years.
  • Justin you're heading up towards 27 years.
  • Suzie S. I met when I was in college - which is the late 80's
  • Tim G. - Another college friend of 25 years ago.
  • Phil E. I've known since arriving in London 20+ years ago.
  • Karen W and Dana L. I first met when I worked in the US over 10 years ago.

What does this say about me as a person? I'm not sure. I don't particularly pride myself on being someone who actively cultivates long relationships. Those of my friends who have waited for me to send them letters or e-mails have usually had to wait far too long. By my own admission I get easily distracted when it comes to keeping in touch. But the upside to this is that when someone does get back in contact after a while it is always a great pleasure.

I was recently gifted with renewed communication from my old Australian friend Michael whom I first met in 1977. We had dropped out of touch for well over a decade (and probably longer) due to... well, I don't know why, exactly, but we did. Then he discovered my blogs, worked out my email address and was able to reconnect with me. It was great to get a long letter from him bringing me up to date with what's happened in his life. We are now back in regular communication. As I mentioned above he was one of the first to send me birthday greetings outside the Facebook medium.

It's times like this that it is good to look back on ones life and cherish the friendships one has made over the years. Sure, there are friends who are no longer communicating with us - I often wonder what happened to old school friends and the like - but they are replaced by other friends who have come into your lives over the years.

Thanks to everyone who wished by a Happy Birthday in some way, shape or form. My apologies to anyone who's birthday I have missed and shouldn't have.

Here's to many more.

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