“When the shoe fits, we forget the foot.”
I had the most incredible trip at the end of April, which really got me thinking about the great value of real-world friendship. The main purpose for taking it was a sad one: my college football coach, the legendary Jim Sochor, died on November 23, 2015, and so I was returning to the University of California, Davis to pay my respects and attend a tribute in his honor. The tribute itself was far from sad, however. It was an incredible celebration of an amazing life, and it triggered so many emotions and thoughts in me. I’ll have more to say on Coach Sochor’s tribute in another blog post once I sort it all out in my mind, and my heart. But, for now, back to the subject of real-world friendship…
As part of my trip for Coach Sochor’s tribute, I organized and attended three other events. It was in planning these gatherings that I started thinking about the question, “Are Facebook friends really real?” You see, I’ve implemented a new travel policy at Happy Living. Wherever I travel, I invite all my Facebook friends in the area I’m visiting to a Happy Living dinner party. This time, I sent out more than 70 invitations for three dinner parties; two in the city of Lafayette and one in Davis itself.
The Facebook friends who attended these dinners came from nearly every stage of my life: elementary school (4), intermediate school (1), high school (2), college football (9), former business colleagues (1), coaches (2 – one high school and one college), and even my self-publishing school coach. There were many friends I hadn’t seen in decades and even a few I didn’t know in “real life” at all (4). At least, I don’t remember ever meeting them. But, the way I figure it, if someone is connected enough to me, and my passions, to scroll though my Facebook posts, and visa versa, then they’re definitely someone I’d like to sit down to dinner with.
So… how did my experiment in celebrating real-world friendship go? Well, I like the old Zen proverb, “When the shoe fits, we forget the foot”, and that’s just how it felt each night. Old friendships fit me so well that I forget about how much time had passed. New friends were so comfortable to be with that they didn’t feel new at all. There was lots of hugging, laughing, and re-connecting in the real world with friends who had stayed connected virtually.
The dinner parties and the tribute to my coach each made for an amazing adventure in their own right, but of everything that happened on the trip, there was one thing that really caught me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to see my college teammate Ernie. In fact, I don’t think I’d thought much about him in many, many years. But when I saw him, a rush of emotion hit me. I suddenly remembered how well the two of us had worked together controlling our side of the football field. Nicknames dormant for decades resurfaced instantly; Gersh and E-Bell. His hair is grey now and mine is gone, but the bond we formed together on the football field nearly thirty-five years ago hasn’t changed one bit.
It’s clear to me now that real friendship is a resilient and precious treasure. Social media makes it easy to maintain a light connection with a lot of friends in the virtual world, and that feels good. But coming together to celebrate friendship in the real world creates a deep connection that energizes the soul, and that feels great!
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