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Reconnecting with people

2021 started with a a good sense of connection for me, having spent time with friends and family in a simple celebration of the oncoming year. The transition from 2020 to 2021 and being able to look back at a good part of my recent history got me thinking about how life has been for me and the family for the past decade. There’ve been a lot of people that I’ve met and become friends with while there are those that I’ve left behind and lost touch with. There’s a saying about treating old friends different from new ones, which I do appreciate now that I’m a bit older. It also means that my relationships with people that I get to spend a good amount of time with take a different shape. This reflection has given me some time and space to think about what it means to reconnect with people.

Friends are the family we choose ourselves. — Edna Buchman

I have the privilege of having life-long friends that I don’t always stay in regular contact with. From my perspective, if I consider you a friend, I don’t necessary need to always be in contact with you. But there are times that I miss friends I’ve had since primary school who’ve gone on to do different things with their lives. Some have traveled the world and are doing well in different countries. Some have stayed back home and have lived wonderful lives with their families taking on the family businesses. Friends I’ve made in high school have become TV news anchors, family men and women, and have scattered all over the world. Friends I’ve made during my time in university have gone on to do wonderful things — become instructors, gotten masters degrees, working on PhDs, climbing the corporate ladder, and doing all manner of great things.

Reconnecting requires effort though. Trying to synchronise schedules, finding the time to write that email, looking up people in various social networks, deciding whether/how to send that postcard, and hoping that there’s a good way to catch up that’s not intrusive. I try to keep up at least a yearly cadence of sending emails to people I consider my friends, and catching up, hoping that I get a response and can keep that connection going. Sometimes I get a response and it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world. When I don’t get a response I pretend that they’re just busy and did appreciate getting a message from me. Sometimes I get a message out of the blue and I get all warm and fuzzy on the inside that someone remembered me and took the time to send me a note.

Nostalgia is a powerful drug. Under its influence, ordinary songs take on dimensions and powers, like emotional superheroes. — Kate Christensen

My brain almost certainly plays a trick on me when I go reminisce or hear something that causes me to remember the past. There are some songs that I associate with particular people, places, events, smells, conversations, and they’re more vivid than they have any right to be. Sometimes it’s not even a song — sometimes it’s a phrase in a book, a sign on the street, or a particular colour of red which brings back this longing for the past. Those times certainly were simpler in my mind. I may be remembering them not exactly as they were but as I wish to remember them. Some of these memories are probably even imagined but they all feel real to me.

Conversations with people take on this similar quality in my mind. When I remember a particular conversation I had with someone I call a friend I don’t necessarily remember the exact conversation — but how they smiled, how they laughed, the puzzled look, the uncomfortable posture, the pained expression, the tears, the joy, the love I felt, and the love I received. I would never really remember names that much because those felt arbitrary constructs, but I remember the face and the person I was with and what they meant to me at the time and that space. This is how I mostly choose to remember people and places, with a strongly personal perspective, one which stays with me better than whatever I’ve written down or recorded in some media.

Spend time with those you love. One of these days you will say either, 'I wish I had', or 'I'm glad I did.' — Zig Ziglar

I’ve been taking a more conscious effort at reconnecting with people in my life that I love. Family is first, and I’m trying to get more connected with friends. The kind of connection I’m looking for though is not just the “we’re friends on social media” but more the kind that sustains and is deeper than the “how are you doing” conversation. Maybe that happens through social media and these communication tools. Or maybe it happens in “meat space” when we can all start safely traveling again.

It might be as simple as me sending an email reaching out.

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