I just got off the phone with a colleague that I haven’t spoken to in over 13 years. When I picked up the phone, it was as if no time had passed. We joked, reminisced about old colleagues, and caught up on what is going on today. I realized that people, and the light they shine, doesn’t change. Our personalities are very similar to the ones we had when we were two years old.
When I got off the phone, I looked at my iPhone and realized that the last time I spoke to her, I was talking on a Nextel phone. Nextel doesn’t exist any longer because it was bought by Sprint. The technology was so different and we have come so far. I just ordered a new protective cover for my phone, but in 2002, these covers weren’t necessary because phones had minimal glass. Life is so different.
But is it really? Recently, I’ve been thinking about visiting family that I haven’t seen in quite a few years. We like each other, but it isn’t often that we see each other. I’m hoping it will be fun and I think it will be…and with any type of cell phone.
Last night, I saw a guy on a bike in a busy intersection at night and he had a flashing light on both the front and the back of his bike. I thought of how useful this is. At first, I thought that the light didn’t need to flash, but as I thought about it more, I realized that it does. He is so vulnerable on a bike and just a steady light could be a street light, a car, or store sign. The flashing light brings our attention closer to him and helps protect his vulnerability.
Riding a bike brought me back to the days when I lived in a small town in Germany and used a bike as my primary mode of transportation. My bike was so basic and had no lights. Riding a bike was so fun. I would jump on it and scoot into town from my apartment to visit friends. When I would think about my journey, I knew that the bike would get me there so much faster than walking. With this knowledge, I was always much more energetic to make the three mile trek.
It’s been over fifteen years since I lived in Germany, but the friendships I made in that town still last today. I think about how the bike helped me to facilitate and then solidify relationships that I would have never made by sitting in my room alone.
Just last week, I was laughing on Skype with a friend who would meet me four to five nights a week when I arrived with my bike. He is a global leader in Google Analytics these days and who knew that he would go down this path when he would tutor me in German on those evenings.
It was also on those evenings that I talked to him about the U.S. and introduced volunteer programs to him in Boston where the following year he would go to work on his English. He certainly wouldn’t be a leader in an American technology if it wasn’t for that bike and our friendship.
I think of these times today when I sometimes find myself staying at home and not reaching out to friends or “getting on my bike”. So much of my life has come from relationships that I’ve built with people over a conversation. With these thoughts, I look forward to again meeting people in town and seeing what comes of it.