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Episode # 64 – the value of friendship

Moving to another country also meant leaving my family and friends behind. No more spontaneous encounters; farewell to the Friday evening drinks, the Saturday night get-togethers until the break of dawn, or the Sunday walk in the woods followed by a lunch. All of a sudden, there is a gap between the people I’ve known for such a long time and the new life I’m trying to create in a land full of strangers.

Last week I had a friend from Holland visit me for four days. I’ve known him for almost 25 years, and although I hadn’t seen him for over 2 years, it felt like yesterday. We spent every minute together, and there was no shortage of things to talk about, just a shortage of time to talk about things.

It felt good to have a close friend visit me in Portugal. I love having conversations where I can explore the depths of my soul and talk about the happy, the sad, and the tragic. It’s the birthplace of real human connection, and I’m happy and fortunate to have friends that I can have those conversations with.

The old friendships from back home have deep roots because they took time to cultivate into what they are now. Time feels different here, and it feels like I’m playing a new game. There are several strategies to choose from to build a new friendship: I can play it safe, take my time to get to know people, and don’t scare them away by avoiding sensitive subjects.

But that doesn’t match the reason why I moved to Portugal, so I decided to use a different strategy. One that requires me to be more vulnerable and where I risk offending people, being criticized, or being rejected. But being vulnerable is not a risk; it’s courage.

Expressing myself goes hand in hand with embracing all that I am, including my weirdness, my flaws, and my quirks. I guess that’s my way to attract potential new friendships so I can have those inspiring, deep, and meaningful conversations. As I stumble forward through life, those conversations have become a very important ingredient because they help me to reflect on my life and help me to not only remember who I am but, perhaps more importantly, who I can become.

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