Often we recognize how lucky we were in a particular phase in our lives in retrospect when we think of the good old days. It is rare that we recognize our luck for what it is as it is happening to us. I’ve had a few of these moments in my life and remember them so vividly. Last weekend was full of these moments.
I was visiting a friend in London for his 50th birthday. His fabulous wife, had arranged a weekend-long surprise party. All of my old university friends from Heidelberg came.
You might think that jetting off to London by myself made me feel lucky and it certainly did! I was so grateful to my kids and sweet husband for this time away. But I was aware of another kind of luck that went beyond the luck of a having a weekend off. I was aware that I have a very special group of friends whom I’ve known for more than half of my life. It isn’t just our shared history that make them special to me. As I go through life, I realize what an extraordinary group of people they are.
Our time as students was filled with adventures, parties and practical jokes. I was thrilled to see on the weekend that despite growing older and spending much more time on the adult responsibilities that children and careers bring with them, everyone was ready for an adventure at the drop of a hat. That is something I love about these friends. They are game.
I also love their creativity. This is easy to see in the practical jokes that get thought up to play on one another, and the songs that are rewritten to sing for each other at wedding, birthdays – really any excuse will do! In talking to my friends on the weekend, I noticed that their creativity extends beyond these little pranks to a general creative way of approaching life’s difficulties and constraints. After the first sprint of establishing a career and family during the past ten years, it seemed everyone was able to sit back for a moment, take stock and look beyond the everyday at what might come next. Many of us were asking ourselves if there were opportunities for adventures, for doing things differently. Creative thinking was being put to work on how to make this happen. Talking to my friends made me feel like I was in good company with my daydreams and that perhaps some of them could truly be pushed into reality – with a bit of creative finesse.
The weekend felt like an affirmation to make the effort to see each other, at least for me. Despite all of our responsibilities, everyone made it to London. Grandparents and partners were organized for looking after children, holidays were taken, flights were booked. After the weekend there was a flurry of emails from everyone of which the main message was how important it was to see each other and how lucky we felt to have each other.
I see these dear friends of mine so rarely and I could have felt sorry for myself because they live too far away. Instead I was overcome with a feeling of gratitude for having them in my life. It is a joy to have old friends that can never truly be replaced in the same way with new ones. There is always an instant connection as if upon seeing each other, the distance both in time and space is quickly crossed and forgotten.
To have old friends in life is lucky. To have the friends like the ones I met up with in London feels like a gift.