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  August 1, 2014
Best Friends Forever...

 


"We’ll be friends forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.  Even longer,’ Pooh answered."

                              ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

It’s been interesting and heart-warming for me these last few weeks...

The week before last, I had the opportunity to travel the state of Wyoming, circling the Wind River Mountains on a bicycle with my sister-in-law and a few of her close and dear friends. 

There I met a terrific couple along with their college-aged daughter.  For 8 days, the six of us swapped stories and histories, shared in incredible scenery and breathtaking vistas at 10,000 feet above sea level, froze our fingers off in the early mornings and sweated in the heat of the afternoons.

The experience brought me memories that will last my lifetime... and I was all-to-happy to be able to share it with people I’ve come to love and admire.

On the last day of the ride, I received a text message from a friend that I hadn’t seen in probably 5 years. 

My friend Ron is an entrepreneur who had started and built a successful office furniture business... sold it to a large multinational corporation... and then later bought it back.

I had met Ron 15 years ago when we both were board members of a local entrepreneur network called Young Entrepreneur’s Organization (now called simply EO). 

Our lives closely paralleled one another’s... with family, business, and community involvement... to which we found ourselves close friends, personal confidantes, and travel companions when attending conferences, the 2002 winter Olympics, and board retreats in remote locations.

About 10 years ago, I left EO when at the time they graduated members over 40 to an alumni status.  This allowed me to focus on my business and pursue other interests.

Ron and I tried to keep in contact for a while... but as time waged on... our lives diverged...

The text message from Ron was simple and to the point... "I was thinking about you... wanna have lunch next week?"

I responded as soon as I read the message... and we arranged a lunch date at a local restaurant for the following week...

On the appointed day, we met each other as we simultaneously arrived at the restaurant...

Although it had been at least 5 years since we had seen each other last... to anyone else who may have been listening to our conversation... they would have thought that we had just seen each other the week before...

The 90 minutes seemed to go by in a flash...

...and as we left the restaurant... we were both in agreement that 5 years was too long to go in between visits... vowing to get together again for a bike ride before the summer was complete...

As I drove back to my office... I silently wondered as to why I hadn’t kept in contact with Ron these past few years...

In my mind I conjured the ever-popular excuse of simply being too busy... but I know all-to-well that it’s really just a rationalization... and that "rationalization" is just a fancy word for telling ourselves "rational lies" so we can reconcile what it is that we think with that of what we do...

This past Sunday morning, the skies were filled with dark clouds.

I had intended to go with some friends on a leisurely social bike ride up the coast along Pacific Ocean.

Thinking about my experiences with Ron only a few days earlier, I decided then not to rationalize the weather situation and opted to venture out and show-up for the ride... rain or shine...

At our assigned meeting point, I found about 20 other riders who were ready to brave the possibility of rain and we started out...

The pack soon thinned out with wide gradient of riding skills and speeds among the 20 riders... some wanting to use the ride as a training ride... riding as fast as they could to try and beat the imposing rain... other saw the ride as a social ride... riding at a snail’s pace while chatting up the events of the past weekend...

So I found myself... mostly riding solo... stuck in the middle space...

After about two hours... the promised rain arrived... and it arrived in buckets...

I decided that it was much safer to wait out the rain... after about 30 minutes the rain subsided... but my group was long gone (not that I really minded as my expectations of a ride alongside some good friends were dashed early into the event).

I decided at that point to abort the ride and head back to my car...

After riding for about a half a mile, I came upon a red-light.  There was another rider waiting at the light when I glanced over and noticed that the other rider was none-other than my friend Jane.

Jane and I had met in 2009 at an after-work spin-class... along with her husband Steve.

While striking up a conversation with the two of them, we all realized that we had committed to ride later that year in the California Coast Classic (CCC) raising money for the Arthritis Foundation (the same ride I’ve been doing each year since... including this year in September).

Jane, Steve and I (along with my wife Susan) soon became good friends and socializing on a frequent basis.

All summer we would ride together, training for the CCC ride later that autumn. 

When the big ride finally came, we rode several days together, giving each other support and encouragement...

For several years after the original ride, I continued to train with both Steve and Jane.  It gave us time to catch up with one another’s lives and create new shared experiences.

Last summer, I heard through my network of friends that Steve and Jane had split up.  I felt bad for the both of them but I also knew that I would most likely find a way to stay in touch... cyclists often find each other out on the open road so I wasn’t too worried...

Upon seeing Jane, I mentioned that I missed not seeing her around... that I heard about her break-up... and asked how she was doing...

She told me that she was healing well... but that she still felt a bit wounded from time to time and that she was now spending more time training for iron-man triathlons...

We spent the next 2 hours catching up and reminiscing about rides we took and experiences that we shared... and it felt like old times...

The last several blogs have been related to what make a business tick... which, don’t get me wrong, is a fine topic...

...yet I find that life is not so much about business...

It’s about people... the friends we meet along the way... both new and old...

It’s about shared experiences... be it a sunrise on a cold morning in the Wind River Mountains... or a mountain summit after a long and arduous climb...

It’s about having lunch with an old friend who took the initiative to call after so many years had passed... just because he was thinking of you and didn’t want any more time to pass before reconnecting...

It’s about seeing a long-lost friend serendipitously on a rainy Sunday afternoon... knowing that you might have reached out to see how she was doing after a bout of heartbreak... but understanding that it takes time for the heart to heal... and trusting that your paths would meet again...

True friendship endures forever... friends never keep score... or worry about the time not spent together... but rather enjoy the time when they are together... laughing together... crying together...

...remembering the past... living in the present... and sharing ideas for the future...

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we are truly grateful for all of the new friendships our business has allowed us to create.



Jim Kalb
President

Email -  jimk@optifuse.com
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com 

Twitter - @OptiFuse

Previous Blogs

The Lemonade Stand - Part III...

Business for 5th Graders Part II...

Business Fundamentals for 5th Graders...

5 Books For Your Summer Vacation...

Riding With Purpose...

A Great Place To Work...

Don’t Be Such a Tool...


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