“There is magic in long-distance friendships. They let you relate to other human beings in a way that goes beyond being physically together and is often more profound.”
— widely attributed Diana Cortes, about whom I could find no reliable information
One of the silver linings to the sorrow of having to leave friends every time we uproot and move, is the chance to have and maintain long-distance friendships. It’s a skill not everyone has, and that’s okay. But for those of us who enjoy such relationships (and it may be bound up, to a great extent, with a love of reading and writing), keeping in touch over years and distances can create a bond unlike those we share with local friends or co-workers, with whom we share only spoken exchanges.
There’s something deliberate and intentional about maintaining ties that go beyond physical proximity. There has to be something extra to bridge the gap created by the miles. Often it’s a shared faith, a life challenge we have in common, a compatible philosophy of life, or a deep interest in one or more activities or topics. Sometimes, if we are really fortunate, it’s all of the above and more.
Today, time constraints are as great a challenge to friendship as distance. I have dear friends who live relatively close by, yet we still stay in touch mainly by email or online. The reality of our daily obligations makes it hard to carve out a chunk of time long enough to enable a good old face-to-face visit as often as we’d like. I think blogging and Facebook and other social media have become popular because people value relationships and long for a way to maintain them despite the busyness of life.
I know that a lot of what happens on social media can be superficial, but it need not be. Our online interactions can be a cozy salon rather than a vacuous cocktail party, as long as we stay authentic and don’t use it as a platform to impress, propagandize or vent (though a bit of all that happens even in genuine conversations). I’m deeply grateful for this added venue for maintaining ties that cross geographic boundaries, even as I am determined not to abandon the good old-fashioned “snail mail” card or letter, or the face-to-face visit whenever we can manage one.
Do you have long-distance friends who are a daily comfort to you? Why not take a moment today to drop a note, card or email to one of them, and let them know you are thinking of them?
One year ago today: