My friend Sheikh and I live just 21 miles apart. We are roughly the same age, share the same values, and we have both experienced the pain of having a child born very premature and struggle to survive. It would be easy to think that we speak regularly since we can relate to each other’s story so well. However, the last time we spoke we were both 860 miles away from where we live in Orlando, Florida at an event. Prior to that, we were 4,611 miles from home in Asuncion, Paraguay.
This past week after exchanging several text messages, Sheikh and I planned to “catch up” over dinner while we were once again in Florida together. We were finally elbow to elbow for nearly an hour, but unable to speak more than pleasantries because others around the table kept asking us questions. In fact, all I could tell you at that point was that my friend had a little more gray hair than the last time I saw him and that his family was doing well. I knew more about the people who randomly sat next to us at dinner than I did my friend whom I have known for several years.
It suddenly clicked, getting to the table isn’t enough. There are many conversations that I should have with others, but waiting for the stars to align to get us in the room together doesn’t ensure we will connect. There will always be other activities and people that distract me from what I intend to do. The distractions can be either good or bad, but they are distracting. If I want to have the friendships I desire, I must be intentional in quieting the distractions and focusing on the conversation in front of me.