When was the last time you looked up an old friend? How do the people you know change over time? What stays the same?
It’s all too easy to lose track of people over time, but it’s not really feasible to maintain every acquaintance that comes our way. We change as circumstances around us shift and our social structure evolves like any other part of our environment.
Some people leave an outsized impression for the short time we might know them, others barely make any mark at all, even if we spend a long period of time in their association. Some we seek out intentionally, others just happen to be along with us in a job or journey.
People come and go, time flies, and the years go by. Before we know it some folks we once knew quite well are just a fading memory. You might wonder about the impression they made on you, but what about the impression you made on them?
It’s only natural to underestimate your impact on other people and the world around you. Your kind words spoken years ago may have made a difference in someone’s life that you can’t imagine. Your offer of encouragement may have been the boost someone needed to succeed.
If you parted ways on separate paths you have no idea how their story turned out. Nor do they have any idea about you. Learning the latest from a long-lost friend can be a reference point to help you know just how far you’ve come on your own journey.
A handful of close confidants, a collection of good friends, and an innumerable number of brief acquaintances are part and parcel to everyone’s experience here on Earth. We all follow our own single path as it intertwines and intersects with everyone else’s.
What counts is your contributions. Not necessarily in the sense of monetary donations to a good cause, although that makes a difference too. When you’ve offered wisdom, cheered someone on, or given someone an opportunity, you’ve provided something valuable that could be the springboard to a better life in ways you can’t imagine.
Self-improvement is a series of iterations each of us makes every time we listen to feedback, take some advice, or put into action something new we’ve learned. Every time we cross paths with someone who recommends something, inspires us, or leads us to some new realization we have the opportunity to grow.
It could be movies, it could be books, it could be a new movement practice or business methodology. Creative techniques or insights from a fellow artist can be the catalyst for an entirely new body of work. We pick up nuggets of inspiration along the way and pass them along as we go.
It was a random phone call yesterday that got me thinking about this. An unknown number came up and I almost ignored it since spam calls are so prevalent these days. But I thought “What the heck” and picked it up anyway.
“Is this Mark?” the voice on the other end asked. “Yes…?” I answered, still skeptical, but now curious as his tone didn’t match the typical telemarketer. “This is Phil ______, I just ran across your number and wanted to reconnect, we haven’t talked in a long while.”
“Long” was putting it mildly! The name immediately rang a bell, but I couldn’t for the life of me place where or when I knew him from. We circled around for a few moments until he named some events we’d both been a part of back in the mid-90s, some 25 years ago at least.
Meanwhile, I was quickly opening up a browser window and doing a search on his name. Yep, there he was, it was all starting to come back to me once I had a face to connect with the name. Thank goodness for the miracle of modern search engines!
Some of you regular Monday Love readers may remember that back in the 90s I ran a clothing and music store in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district called Ameba. We were in many ways one of the main nodes of the underground dance music circuit, (ie Rave Scene) and involved ourselves in many events at the time.
We spent a good while on the phone catching up and connecting the dots on our respective histories since then. Much water had gone under the bridge for both of us, relationships, businesses, kids, etc. Where we connected in the present moment brought us full-circle to where we started – a shared passion for spinning records.
I clued him in to some of my favorite current online resources for vinyl DJs, (things that didn’t exist back in the 90s!). I let him know about The Record Man in Redwood City, home of 100,000 12″ singles that I dove into last week. He told me about the eight crates of dance records his friend was storing for him and his efforts to get his turntables back up and running.
The conversation left me feeling inspired and grateful that he had looked me up. It felt like an old and long-forgotten acquaintance was being recycled into a new friendship in the present day. It felt good to provide him with some current inside knowledge and to offer him encouragement to pick up the practice again.
For me, the moral of the story is: go ahead and take a chance. The worst that could happen when you look up an old friend or acquaintance is that there’s not much to connect on anymore or that you hear a tale of tragedy that leaves you reeling.
But even if there’s not much to connect on in your current life, it’s enough to let someone know you remember whatever inspiration or good times you once shared. It feels good to know you made a difference, and it’s a gift to share that with an old friend.
May your week ahead be delightful, much love till next Monday,
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine