Most people let friendship happen to them. They choose friends by who happens to be around them, letting close proximity become the most important selection factor for friends. Never looking outside those nearby, they become friends with the ones they like the best (or dislike the least).
It was the kids on our street or in our classes at school. Now it’s the people who sit next to us at work or whose kids are on the same sports teams (sitting next to us on the bleachers every weekend).
Instead, I urge you to ignore proximity as much as possible. Choose the best people you know in the world, regardless of whether they are within easy reach. Technology makes connecting over distances easier than ever. (I’ve used Skype and internet based phone numbers to share life with people literally on the other side of the planet. You can even watch shows and play games in real time from anywhere in the world.)
Recently, I was able talk deeply, laugh, and pray with three great friends–one from Texas, another from Colorado, and the other who lives in China. I spend more time talking with them than a lot of the people physically near me. Proximity isn’t bad, though. I do have close friends who live near me, but it wasn’t their nearness that put them on my radar for serious friendship.
Even with technology, is it convenient to stay close to awesome, but distant friends? No. But it’s worth it.
Don’t underestimate the impact of your friends on your life. Few things can match the significance of your friends on your attitudes, choices, and accomplishments (and almost nothing can top it). And if you really want to have an exceptional life, you need exceptionally good friends–no matter where they live.
What great friends have you lost touch with over the years? When will you email/call/message them to reconnect?