The recent loss of a friend has had me reminiscing a lot lately. Some of it has been spontaneous, but I’ve been jolted into much of it, as friends post pictures of themselves with our friend. This was a particularly special group, with particularly strong bonds.
We met as strangers, plucked one by one from our comfortable jobs, asked to take part in an adventure that would take us literally around the world. I didn’t have to move my family, but many of the others did, from all corners of the planet. We tucked our loved ones into snug, warm homes in frigid Minnesota, and then we headed out. For two weeks a month, small, random groups of us were our own kind of family, in some random part of the world. Some places were exotic, while others were remote and rough. Together we shared the adventures and hardships, going everywhere as a group, eating all of our meals together. Some of the personalities didn’t mesh, but amazingly most did. It was an awesome thing to watch the most unlikely characters, including myself, become lifelong friends with others of such different backgrounds. The normal barriers of race, religion, age, and gender truly didn’t matter. It was a glimpse of how it should be and will be again someday.
As the posted pictures have whisked me unexpectedly into the past, I have felt fleetingly sad before I smiled. Sadness for the loss of my friend, quickly replaced by the warmth of the memories the pictures evoke. Making this unsolicited emotional journey dozens of times over the last couple of weeks has left me reflecting on the impact of those two short years on my life. It was significant. I made lifelong friends. I became culturally sensitive. I became a better leader and better person, with significant help from these special people.
I’ve come to realize nostalgia is more for a time than a place or even the people. I miss the people, but things inevitably change, making it impossible to go back. My friend is gone, and most of the others have moved on, leaving me with a special bond with this special group of people, scattered again across the globe. I now have only the memories…how wonderful they are.
“Take care of all your memories, for you can not relive them.” –Bob Dylan