Sometimes what tragic events do is force you to focus on what’s really important. When my sister died, I focused on school and friends. It’s hard to explain, but it almost felt like everything was new again, like I was starting over. Some of that feeling is with me now, though I think I’ve been on this trajectory since I quit my job 18 months ago. What’s become most important to me are personal connections: family first and friends. I’ve known for a long time that keeping those connections is hard work, and hard work is easy to push off to another day, especially when there are no direct consequences. Back at home, I became aware that my dad had plenty of close friends from years of living and working in a fairly tight-knit community. I had escaped my hometown as fast as I could and let my old high school friendships fade. Not all of that is bad. Certainly it’s good to make new friends and life’s circumstances often dictate who one becomes friends with, but it’s a shame I let so many go. I did the same with college. College, however, was different in that I think I didn’t always pick the best of friends and there are only one or two people I can say that I felt close to at the time. In high school, there were plenty of people I felt close to. Many of my college friendships were superficial while I feel that most of my high school friendships weren’t. But like high school, I pretty much left town and didn’t look back.
Perhaps some of my best friendships were formed in graduate school. Some in my first grad school, and many more (for me, at least) my second time through. Again, though, I haven’t been as good at maintaining those relationships as I should. As I said above, it’s easy to put off making the phone call or sending the email for another day, and before you know it, months (or years) have gone by. And I haven’t been terribly successful at establishing new friendships locally. Some of my best friends are scattered around the country. They are mostly people I’ve met online initially, but whom I’ve spent time with face-to-face and to whom I now feel a close connection.
The last few days have made me want to give more attention to building and maintaining connections to people. So that’s the first important thing.