A few days ago, I received an email from a former best friend of mine. By former, I mean way former, as in John was my best friend in my junior and senior year of high school.
Even back then, John had a lot of good stuff going for him. He had a rugged, ruffled look that appealed to pretty girls. He was a star tight end on our football team. He was put in all the honors classes with the brainy kids. He learned to play one song, “Misty,” on the piano in a soulful manner (another girl-catching strategy). And he took off to an Ivy League college after graduation.
Fifty years later, I got an email from John, who is now an award-winning, international scholar. He had read one of my Mindful Midweek self-disclosures, and was writing to apologize for abandoning me during our early years of college. Somehow John thought that if he had “stayed in touch,” he would have kept me from over-drinking, from over-partying and from eventually flunking out of college.
My first response was to be deeply moved by John’s kindness and sense of obligation to a high school friend. My eyes moistened, reflecting on old memories and youthful friendships. My second response was, “You got to be kidding me, John. Even Superman couldn’t have stopped the train I was on.”
Well, here’s part of the response I sent back to him:
“Wow, John, I’m deeply touched by your supportive remarks about days long ago, but I actually had a grand time back then and, although it did not include early academic success, the wisdom I gained from that pandemonium came in handy over the following decades. My only fear is that if you had reached out with a helping hand, I would have pulled you in my direction, and you would have never become a famous scholar. I can just picture us hitchhiking off into the Wild West and beyond. Who knows where we might have ended up?”
I’m amazed when I receive unexpected gifts such as the heartfelt communication from John. Just thinking about all he and I have been through gets me a little…”Misty,” and I’m reminded of the emotional flow that is unique to each of our lives.
I can’t imagine anything more important than leaving tracks of love and friendship behind as we go.