That's friendship

Over the last week or so I've had a series of experiences that have me thinking a great deal about friendship. I am not a social butterfly; I tend to seek out close, long-term friendships and value the depth and commitment that goes along with them. For many years in the Bay Area I was surrounded by long-term friends that were nearby. Many of my friends had remained in the Bay Area and were conveniently located, even if we only saw each other a few times a year. Over time, though, some of my closest friends started migrating away, some to Oregon, some to North Carolina and then my family and I moved to Bozeman. That put a much greater distance between us and our long-term friends.

This week I was reminded that what I value in friendship continues despite the distances separating me from my friends. The other night I did my fund drive show for KGLT. My wife, Nancy, and my kids, Kiley and Zane, all helped me in the studio and, despite my graveyard shift, we all had a great time. All of our pledge calls came from friends and family and that contributed in a big way to how much fun the show was for us. My parents called from Berkeley, CA; we had friends call from Washington, Oregon and right here in Bozeman. Every one of those calls came from people we love talking to and who define what friendship means to me.

Today I was thinking about the key ingredients of friendship that make it so rewarding to me. When I'm just as interested in hearing what others say as I am to talk about my own thoughts, that's friendship. When others' opinions are just as important as my own, that's friendship. When I can go for months or even years without talking to someone and yet, the minute we see each other, the conversation picks up where we left off, that's friendship. When someone else's project is just as important as my own, that too is friendship. Feeling comfortable enough to ask for advice, to give it, to accept it and ignore it, that is friendship.

As I've traveled through life, I've discovered something about myself that hadn't hit home in my younger years. I always knew that I was an introvert. I mean that in the Myers-Briggs sense: my primary sense of well-being comes from within. If I'm not living up to my own expectations, I'm unhappy and dissatisfied. I measure my own success based mostly on my own self evaluation. What's changed over time, however, is the much bigger role that friendships play in my life. Over time, both with music and with software development, I learned how rewarding it is to interact with other people. At this point in my life I have many really great friendships, and I know damn well how important they are to my own happiness. That doesn't mean I've become an extrovert; my happiness is still determined mostly based on self-assessment. But I've learned that time spent with others, especially good friends, is the key to keeping me motivated and satisfied.

I have many of you to thank for that perspective. Your friendship makes my life interesting. You keep me on my toes, you inspire me and you make my life fun. You've helped me learn what friendship really is and you make each day unique. Please know how much I appreciate each and every one of you, even during those periods where we fail to find time together. I am always thinking of you and my life is better for it. Here's a toast to all of you - thank you for being part of my life!

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