ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

THE YEAR OF RENEWED RELATIONSHIPS

Dave called the other day.

Which wasn’t an unusual thing – at least, not 35 years ago when we were best high school friends and future college roommates.  Dave was a central figure in my life in those days, and I thought we would be friends forever.

But you know how that goes.  You stay in close touch for a while, and then life’s currents push you down different streams.  School, families, careers, community involvement – you know the drill – it all requires your strict attention, and before you know it years have passed and miles have interceded and those who were once your dearest, closest companions are little more than names on a Christmas card mailing list.

Names that bring smiles of recognition and memory, but names nonetheless.

Dave and I have bumped into each other now and then through the years, and when we did it was always joyful.  Well, almost always.  There was the time he came to my house to chew me out for not going to our 20-year high school class reunion.  I thought I had very good reasons for not going, and he thought my reasons were dumb.  He was right, of course – my reasons WERE dumb, although I didn’t see it that way at first.  But even though our interaction that day wasn’t completely pleasant, it was still wonderful to see Dave.

It always was.

That’s why I was so pleased to hear his familiar “José my boy!” on my cell phone the other day.  He was driving somewhere with his family, and I was finishing the last of my Christmas shopping, but we both paused for a few minutes to renew, remember and reconnect.

“I don’t know what it is,” he said in the middle of our conversation, “but for some reason I just feel . . . drawn to some of the people who were important in my life years ago.”

“We’re 50 now,” I said, reassuringly.  “Old people are supposed to do stuff like that.”

“But I think it’s more than just that,” Dave said.  “This isn’t nostalgia.  It’s . . . I don’t know . . . recognizing that these people were important to me for a reason.  They’re part of who I am, and who I’ll always be.  And I don’t want to lose sight of that just because we don’t live by each other and do stuff together all the time.”

“So does this mean you don’t want to get together for a little one-on-one hoop?” I asked.

“Not unless someone is going to be there with defibrillators,” he said.  “But I would like to stay in touch better than we have in the past.”

“I’d like that too, Dave,” I said.  “I’d like it a lot.”

So we both made our first New Year’s resolution for 2006, right there on our cell phones.  As old (Gadzooks!  50!) and dear friends, we resolve to become newer, less distant old and dear friends.  At this point, I’m not exactly sure what that means.  But I’m delighted by the prospect – absolutely delighted – and I look forward to renewing this precious friendship in 2006.

And I’m thinking that maybe you might want to consider joining us in this renewal.  Surely there are people in your life with whom you’ve lost contact – dear friends or distant relatives who once were important to you.  These are the people who helped to shape you, human touchstones with your past that lead directly to your future.

You’ve always wondered what happened to them, haven’t you?

So . . . find out!

Let 2006 be The Year of Renewed Relationships.  Find one old friend, one lost family member and re-establish communication.  It might take a little effort and a phone call or two, but I truly believe it will be worth it – for you and for the person whose relationship you renew.

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— © Joseph Walker

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E-mail Joseph at: valuespeak@msn.com 


Look for Joe's book,
"How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.