On The Nature of Friends

Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I am a lucky, lucky human being.

I'm lucky for a large number of reasons, not the least of which is that I am in good health (and have been my whole life), I have a large and supportive family, I have kids who are working towards becoming quality adult human beings, and I've found a Smart Man to share my life who makes me laugh and treats me with love and respect.

But I'm also lucky because at this middle stage in my life, I have been absolutely blessed by a group of incredible friends.

I have my friends whom I've met through work, or mutual friends, or my military service. Some of these people have been my friends for almost twenty years (Hi Mechanicky Gal!), and my life is unquestionably richer for having them in it.

However, in the last two years, I have been lucky enough to fall in with a group of individuals who have widened my circle of friends in amazing ways. This group calls itself the Union of Collaborating Founders (UCF)*, and we met over on John Scalzi's Whateveresque Forum.

My relationship with these people continues to evolve, and we've become a pretty close knit group as we've shared each other's triumphs and tragedies. When a member of our group suddenly lost their spouse, our response was immediate, and we felt her pain in a way that didn't differentiate between friends who know each other "in real life" and friends who only know each other on-line.

For me, the most amazing aspect of this group is that fact that of the current 22 members, I've met only five in meat-space.

People who say you can't have meaningful on-line relationships don't know the UCF. I don't know if this on-line friendship experience is unique (since it's been my only one), but I consider these people my friends, not my on-line friends.

I'm not one of those people who believe that friendships have to last a lifetime in order to be profound and meaningful. People do outgrow one another, and while such growing apart can be melancholy, it doesn't negate the friendship that came before, or cheapen the relationship. There are some individuals whom I have counted as some of my best and truest friends in this world, and yet I don't speak to them on a regular basis at this point. I think of them fondly, and keep track of them, but we live separate lives now. That's not a bad thing, and I still continue to feel blessed for having had them in my life, however long the relationship lasted.

When I was a youngster, my father once told me that true, meaningful friendships are few and far between in this life. He told me that if I ended up with five profound friendships before I died, I would be a lucky person indeed.

I am lucky. Lucky and thankful. So I'll take this opportunity to say thank you to all my friends, whether I met you in meat-space or on-line. You enrich my life, and make me happy, and hold me accountable. and I'm a better person for having known you. As my friend Jeri says, spending time with you "replenishes my soul," and I appreciate you each and every day.



*This name has no deep, profound meaning. It's essentially a name that Nathan pulled out of his ass, and we all jumped on the bandwagon because we're lazy gits and had nothing better to contribute. It doesn't stand for "Uniformed (Currently or Formerly) Counter-Intelligence Force" or any other paranoid fantasy. We're friends. That's it. Sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists. Now move along.

30 comments:

Shawn Powers said...

Awe shucks, Janiece. We all think you're pretty shiny too. :)

Wendy said...

The feeling is mutual, my dear. Should you ever wander over Atlanta way, you know you have a place to stay!

More later, it's just a crazy day at the nut house I work at!

WendyB_09

Anne C. said...

I think one of the things we liked about the UCF name is that it IS meaningless and random.

And as Shawn and Wendy said: The feeling is mutual. :)

Many hugs!

Steve Buchheit said...

There was an opportunity around the holidays that we might have been able to make it to Denver. I told my wife, "Hey, if we go, I know somebody we could have lunch or dinner with one day."

She asked me who we knew who lived out there, and then I had to explain some more of the blogging thing. She already thought I was crazy so I lost no ground there.

And from an outlier of the group, (voice="Billy Crystal") the feeling is mutual, darling.(/voice)

Jim Wright said...

Personally, I hate all of you, and especially the lawyer.

Janiece Murphy said...

Steve, I'd love to have dinner or lunch with you and your lovely wife - be sure to let us know if you're in town.

And Jim, you're not nearly as crabby as you'd like us to think. In fact, I have it on the highest authority (*cough*Northern Exposure Trollops*cough*) that you're actually kind of marhmallow-y in person.

But your secret is safe with us.

Eric said...

The feeling is mutual, Janiece--except I agree with Jim about the lawyer. Why the fuck are we even allowing that whiny bastard to stay in the club?

Random Michelle K said...

Yay!

Friends!

Hugs to everyone!

Carol Elaine said...

Ya know how I feel about ya, baby. Mutual feelings and all that. Same with the rest of the UCFers, including lawyers and retired warrants.

(I have a very dear friend that I met via the interwebs and I've met her in person only twice, since she lives in the Netherlands. We've been friends for ten years. It's as deep and rich a friendship as any I've had.)

*hugs*

vince said...

Let's hear it for friends!

One of the things that I really like is that we're such a diverse group who can often disagree like hell about a subject, yet do so without becoming whack-a-moles.

Like Shawn said, we all think you're pretty shiny as well.

Nathan said...

Anybody mind if I hate the math geeks?

Eric said...

Anybody mind if I hate the math geeks?

Hatred leads to anger, anger leads to fear. Fear leads to becoming a sulky emo kid who misses his mommy and has unclear motivations for deciding the only way to save his wife is by teaming up with an ambiguously gay fascist tyrant who somehow takes over the entire galaxy with the help of some kind of not-very-smart vaguely offensive CGI alien.

I.e. don't do it, man.

Random Michelle K said...

No, Nathan's safe.

He's not married.

Anne C. said...

LOL! Eric, you (as usual) crack me up. :D

Nathan said...

OK, fine!

Anybody mind if I make mildly unflattering comments about the math geeks?

Jim Wright said...

As usual, the lawyer is wrong. This is how is really is:

Listen all! This is the truth of it. Fighting leads to killing, and killing gets to warring. And that was damn near the death of us all. Look at us now! Busted up, and everyone talking about hard rain! But we've learned, by the dust of them all... Bartertown learned. Now, when men get to fighting, it happens here! And it finishes here!

Two men enter; one man leaves.

Jim Wright said...

:::chanting:::
Two men enter, one man leaves!
Two men enter, one man leaves!

:::grabs the chainsaw:::

neurondoc said...

I love you all, except maybe the asshole.

I, too, have had to go through verbal contortions to explain my internet-based friendships to people who have no experience and/or no desire to find friends via the web. Their loss.

My best friend in the world, I met through the Lois-Bujold list, and although we have never lived in the same country much less the same time zone, we have been each other's evil twin for almost 12 years now.

I look forward to the UCF friendships deepening and getting in more trollopy fun...

Janiece, you rock!

neurondoc said...

Jim needs drugs.

Jim Wright said...

:::smacks the helmet right off the opposition!::::

Two men enter, one man leaves!
Two men enter, one man leaves!

::Jim does not need drugs, he needs all ten fingers and a beer:::

vince said...

Damn, I hate it when the asshole is right!

Time counts and keeps countin', and we knows now finding the trick of what's been and lost ain't no easy ride. But that's our trek, we gotta' travel it. And there ain't nobody knows where it's gonna' lead. Still in all, every night we does the tell, so that we 'member who we was and where we came from... but most of all we 'members the man that finded us, him that came the salvage. And we lights the city, not just for him, but for all of them that are still out there. 'Cause we knows there come a night, when they sees the distant light, and they'll be comin' home.

All ten fingers, a beer, and that movie on.

Janiece Murphy said...

You people need a whole team of psychiatrists.

Can I continue to make fun of the 'tards?

vince said...

Can I continue to make fun of the 'tards?

Of course you can!

And you, my friend, are just as insane as the rest of us.

Team of psychiatrists indeed.

Wendy said...

Better watch it Mad Max...you're going to piss off Auntie again and you know what that means...

I don't explain, I just say I've got a friend from whereever, which occasionally gets raised eyebrows from the usual local suspects! We've all been hanging around each other for years, so me suddenly having new friends they don't know is a little foreign to them.

I've always believed that people are in your life for a reason, and friends move on over time as needs change. There are a couple people that stuck with me through a tramatic time in my life, and I would not have made it without them. We've lost touch over the years, although one of them called a year or so ago, he's married and has a kid (o.O) now, huge surprise. I do know the other has not done so well, but we're out of touch and I don't think I could help her if we were.

Even better is in the last year I've rediscovered two friends from like 35 years ago, and we're having fun reconnecting slowly as our schedules allow. With both it turns out we've been in the same place at the same time and never knew it on more than one occasion.

And more recently I've met all of you. And my life is richer for it.

WendyB_09

neurondoc said...

No psychiatrists; they're all crazy. There's a reason they become psychiatrists, ya know...

Random Michelle K said...

No psychiatrists; they're all crazy.


Well hell, I know what kind of work I should go into next then.

MWT said...

I think I feel an urge to share some of my recent coding work on my blog in the very near future... :D

I also like Jim's version of what UCF stands for - "Us Cool Folks." It's what I use when I'm referring to the UCF elsewhere online.

kimby said...

Late to the party....but I know with this group that doesn't matter....

Friends are friends, shiny box or not!

Kate said...

Again, I come to the party a bit late, but you put into words what I've been trying to say to other people so eloquently.

Thank you assholes, lawyers, trollups and ladies for some of the best friends I've ever had. :)

Janiece Murphy said...

There are ladies in this group?

Where?