I suspect that I likely have said this before. One of the great things about life is the friends you have and the people you meet along the way.
I have met some very interesting folks who have become friends and some who have not. There are people who were friends and disappeared along the way or changed in a way that meant we went our separate ways. I have never really thought about it very much, but since a college friend died suddenly a few years ago, I have tried to make it a priority to stay in touch with people whose council and friendship I have valued over the years.
It gives me great pleasure to call someone who has not heard from me in years and still have a rewarding conversation reconnecting. As my high school (military school) roommate of three years said so appropriately when I caught him last Saturday night, "by our age most of the people you did not like when you were young have had the things you did not like about them beaten or knocked out of them by life."
That has to be very close to being on target. The rough edges seem to wear off of most of us. Those stupid things we did as a youth now look stupid to us as well.
We had a wonderful dinner with friends last night and it began with the host thanking God for the fact that he and another gentleman, both of whom have had some recent health scares, were able to be with the group for the celebration.
In fact their presence was much of the reason for the celebration, and a year your circle of friends does not get diminished is rare when you get in your fifties. Good friends are those people that are always there for you no matter what your circumstance in life. Good friends are very close to family where the door is always open and you are always welcome no matter what has happened.
In the last six months, I have had a chance to think about people. I have gone from being a relatively important person in a Fortune 500 company to one without a job.
Most people have treated me with very little difference.
Some have been very supportive of my transition period. Those people I know are real friends. A few folks have drifted away. Some I am sure because their personal style just does not support keeping in touch with people or the relationship we had just does not have anything to keep it going.
There are a few folks who have stopped communicating. Actually there were a number of Apple folks who did not even acknowledge that I was no longer with the company. Perhaps this is easier to understand when it is clear that any employee in a large company is like a finger in a bucket of water. You pull the finger out and the water or other employees fill the hole.
Unfortunately I know Apple very well and some of the folks who gradually stopped checking on me.
Some probably dropped me because I was no longer blessed within the corporation. Some corporations value constructive criticism and suggestions, believing that more than one view point makes for stronger strategies. Apple is not one of those companies. Apple has one vision and that has served some folks at Apple very well.
I do not fault the former friends and associates who are afraid to commuicate with me. I know how tough it is to get a job. Working in a company which files lawsuits on leaked information certainly makes you think twice before sending any unnecessary e-mails.
Though I will be gainfully employeed in January, finding a good spot to work is not as easy as it might appear from the statistics so doing everything to stay employed short of unethical is fine with me.
It is the other group of folks who stopped communicating that perhaps leaves the most sadness. I think they are best described as an inverse of a quote that I saw in this week's "The Week."
"You can easily judge the character of a man by the way he treats those who can do nothing for him."
-Goethe quoted in the London Times
It is actually sad to see folks who view you in terms of what you can do for them. That is a hard way to go through life. It is even worse when some of them try to play the part of a real friend. Now that I have figured out a couple of those folks, I do not miss them. They no longer ring true, and I would be suspicious if they tried to communicate again.
So here is to good friends, those that are with us through thick and thin, those whose friendship is based on whom we are and not what we can do for them. May each of you be as wonderfully blessed as I am and have just as many great friends as I do spanning the decades and helping me renew my love of life each year.
With great friends, a wonderful wife, fantastic kids, and a stellar extended family, there is no wonder I hop out of bed each morning, excited to see the sunrise.
For more of what Apple was like, you can read the Pomme Company, my book about my nearly 20 years at Apple.