Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

Hackett: The friends we make along the way

There’s nothing quite like catching up with an old friend.

This is going to a be a column of the lighter variety, one that deviates from the hard-hitting news stories we’ve faced in our province over the past month.

Everybody deserves a reprieve– a distraction from the big problems that bog down our day-to-day lives.

I’ve been extremely lucky in the past couple of weeks to catch up with a few friends I haven’t seen in a long time.

As someone who has lived in four different provinces over the past decade and someone who tends to make a lot of friends wherever they go, something struck me this time around more so than it usually does.

It’s a reality that people are going to come and go in your life as an adult and sometimes, especially separated by geography, it’s not always easy to stay as in touch as you would like.

Sometimes it was circumstance that brought you together and circumstance that made the connection fade.

Inevitably, if those times were good when you are able to connect with that old friend again, it always feels like no time at all has passed.

It’s a remarkable thing that over time and distance, it only takes a minute or two for those belly laughs to return when a pair of old friends unite.

Those people become part of our collective narrative. They leave a part of themselves like a mini-tattoo on our soul that we carry with us where ever we go.

Even in the technologically based world we live in today, there’s something that just hits differently when you are able to sit down with an old friend and just get caught up on their life and everything that they’ve been up to.

You never get to everything, especially the further apart the visits fall. You also can’t get in too many new updates, because the old stories about those ridiculous times you had need some time to breathe.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the future or the next thing, that it’s hard to slow down and look back at how far we’ve come. Taking a sneak peek at that person you used to be is a good chance to take stock of all the development and growth you’ve had.

That development also offers a reflection into the company you have been able to keep and when you see their positivity or strength, it makes you feel like you’ve included the right people in your life along the way. It helps you feel like your moral judgment or character assessments have been spot on over the years and hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two from those people as time passed.

Time is a funny thing. Those specific memories fade – the exact details of one story to the next drift into the background. But it’s the feeling – maybe it’s nostalgia for a simpler or different time – that seems to stick around.

All this, of course, comes with a certain type of guilt. A guilt that hangs around because you haven’t been in touch as much as you wanted or haven’t reached out when you thought you should.

As much as it’s easy to let that guilt dominate the time following that interaction with an old friend, I’m here to try and tell you to just ignore that.

Remember the good times. Do your best to reach out. If it’s a real or true friend, they’ll remember the good times just like you and won’t dwell too hard on the time in between. That time in between was full of experiences for both of you, but it doesn’t diminish the good times.

I’ll be getting married in a month and people from all different stages of my life, from childhood to my present-day life will be there. I can sometimes see that room in my head and it’s funny the way your brain works. You see those people as you remember them last, not the way they’ve grown or the person they’ve become.

It’s a little like the movie Big Fish, a story about a child whose father is on his death bed and the child has a tough time reconciling with his father, who often fabricated tales about his journey to adulthood.

Your brain probably plays that same trick on you as you age, letting you think about the journey you travelled or experiences you had, were all more epic than they actually were.

And that may well be true.

But what’s the fun in living in a world where you remember everything you’ve done as mundane or run-of-the-mill.

So pretend those stories are once-in-a-lifetime adventures.

Pretend those times were epic. Let those laughs last a lifetime.

Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

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