I was ashamed of everything. I moved about 100 miles away so there was no chance I could run into anyone I knew.
I didn’t have a job. It was snowing every day. I never left my new, tiny home because I was afraid I’d cry outside. Like my dad when he had become depressed 15 years earlier.
I’d lock myself in a small office. My tiny daughters occasionally knocked on the door, a ball in their hands. “Daddy, do you want to play?”
But then something happened.
I couldn’t sleep at all. I was too anxious. So at 6 a.m. I’d go to the local cafe. One day someone brought a Scrabble set.
A few of us started to play. Soon it became a regular thing. Who were they? Nobody. All of us, nobody.
First one game, then two games were going.
I had zero friends from the disaster I had left behind. But after Scrabble, sometimes one or two of us would break off and we’d take a walk around the Revolutionary War ruins that littered themselves around town.
What was there to talk about? Scraps. Mistakes.
We all had been degraded and humiliated by people better than us. We were afraid.
I can’t believe the things I shared. The things she shared. He shared. They shared.
A friend listens. A friend is curious.
A friend offers suggestions but doesn’t force their solutions.
A friend laughs.
I’m not ashamed to ask for help from a friend. I’m pretty much ashamed to ask for help from anyone else.
Sometimes I meet a new person and BAM! Magic! We don’t need to be friends for 40 years. We can’t stop talking.
Sometimes I really like people but I can also sense I can never really be friends with them. Eventually they drift away.
I miss my friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. Some friends can pick right up even if it’s been years.
Friends don’t expect a lot from me and I don’t expect a lot from them. Then… guess what? Our expectations are always exceeded 100%.
Friends share ideas with me and I share ideas with them. I have idea sex with friends and we grow idea families together.
All opportunities bloom from the seeds of friendship.
To be understood, you have to understand. To be listened to, you have to listen.
I didn’t know that until everyone had stopped listening to me.
Every morning at Scrabble was a little friendship party. I like those. I wish… I wish I had more of those now.
Too many people wonder, “What’s my goal?”
Too many times I’ve said, “I can’t be happy without X or Y!”
Friendship requires less naked ambition.
I wonder how many friends I should have. How many? In a city filled with everyone.
I’ve only gotten off of rock bottom by gripping onto the hands of friends who could pull me higher. New and old.
Sometimes now, I miss these moments of shame. These moments where I was shy and hoping someone would reach me.
Sometimes I miss friends I haven’t seen in a long time.
Don’t worry. Even if we never see each other again… we saw each other once.
James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Helena Lopes.