Friday, January 06, 2012

Coming to a doorstep near you

My family and I love to travel. We do. We like to load up the van and take off for parts unknown and familiar, bagging a 4,000-mile trip over a couple of weeks. We like to see the people we know and love and also see the sites of which most people just see pictures.
Because of a few life-changing events in 2011, we have determined to bring our friends in a little closer to us. Our van will get gassed-up and tuned up this summer and take us on a multi-thousand mile trip. Could be 5,000. Could be 8,000. We may only get to go halfway across the country, or perhaps we’ll get to the East Coast. We don't know yet. But it should be fun, exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.
Recently I read about a lady who decided to personally see all 300-plus people on her Facebook friends list. She did it last year and spent more than $30,000 getting the job done traveling the world. What made her trip more remarkable was that she struggles with depression and, prior to her road trip, spent the vast majority of her time housebound, and scared to even leave her home. What a big step to leave under such constraints. And what a show of devotion to friends that she would get out of her bubble to see them.
But such devotion doesn’t have to be shown to someone who lives 2,000 miles away. Perhaps there’s someone across town you don’t spend as much time with anymore. Perhaps they live just an hour away. What is their friendship worth to you? Perhaps it’s time to just invite them over for coffee. Perhaps you can just drop in on them.
I believe with our social media saturated culture, we have perhaps a distorted idea of true friendship. We may have a lot of friends per se, but do we really know them? Would we ever see them? Are they really friends or acquaintances? Granted, we all have acquaintances -- those who we don't mind having in our lives but keep at a distance for some reason or another. But what about those we have broken bread with, cried with, went camping with, grew up with or stood alongside with during a significant life event? What about those we say we love but haven't seen in 20 years and don’t expect to any time soon? Are those friends worth the sacrifice of reconnection? Does a phone call, text, poke or IM just not getting the job done anymore? Do things really bridge the divide? Perhaps it's time to hit the road and see these people, in the flesh.
And that's what we plan on doing in 2012. We long to see our friends face to face. And I can't wait for the bonding that will happen in our family when we again ride together across this country. Those are the things that we build in our children so that they will learn the value of relationships and eventually learn to go the extra miles for those they will soon know and love.


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

January Stinks

"Fish and visitors smell after three days." -- Benjamin Franklin

My wife and I have long joked about our nemesis, January.

January is pretty sure of itself. It knows that everyone wants to see it. It makes December feel bad, especially right after Christmas. I mean, December just gives us a rip-snorting good time with presents and holiday cheer when January starts knocking on December's door, threatening to kick it out.

And when January comes blowing in on the first, evicting December with its songs, toasts and parties, everyone welcomes it with open arms.

"Oh, January, we thought you'd never get here!" they cry.

Those seeking change snuggle sickly up to January: "Oh January, thank you for giving us a second chance."

And January smugly takes in all the attention. Like a politician, it promises much and predicts great things. It smiles and kisses our babies and makes big speeches about good times to come. And, fresh from Christmas, we salivate for more good times that only December can give, and expect second helpings of holiday heapings from January.

But, oh how quickly our devotions change. We start seeing through January's slick promises. We quickly start realizing that January is, in fact, a thief. It kicked December to the curb and didn't expect to get caught. When the taxman comes, we call for January to help us but it's silent. When the one pound we lost on the second turns into three pounds gained on the third, we cry for help. But January turns a deaf ear. When happiness with friends on Dec. 31 turns into heartache over tragedy, we ask why. And January doesn't give an answer.

No, my friends. Here on Jan. 4, we see January for what it is. January is not a team player. January in and of itself does not fulfill one of its shallow promises. January doesn't keep away the trials, pains, hard work and dedication the way it promised. January, really, does nothing.

January stinks.

- Bill