I lost a friend last week.
I first met John when I was 17 years old. On my first day of
the best job I would ever have. And the most rare and special thing about that
job was that I knew--as it was happening--that it would be the best time of my
life. How many things can we really say that about?
As I was standing among the hundreds of people who came out
to celebrate John’s life and share memories of this amazing man, I realized
that my own sadness extended beyond just having to say goodbye to him. I felt
so sad. I also felt a real and palpable sadness because some of these people—these
friends of mine—were people I never really saw anymore. That felt like an
Why does it take the death of a good friend to put me in the
same room as people I genuinely love and care about? No one—not one person—is too
busy to make time for an old friend. We all can sure as hell find time to
attend a friend’s funeral.
But I realized something else that cold night we were saying
goodbye to John. There are honestly some things I don’t have time for. I don’t
have time for people who don’t make me happy. Don’t add value to my life. Cost
more than I can afford. It is always sad to let go of someone you care about.
That too feels like a loss. Sigh. So many losses.
“Life is a zero-sum game,” I heard a stranger say.
In economics, there is a lot of math. I’m not good at math,
which I think is primarily due to the difficulty my brain has with absolutes.
Because I am not good at math, I’m not especially good at economic theories.
But some theories involve cake. I am good at those.
For example, imagine I have a cake. (Something with cream
cheese frosting, please.) And imagine I am choosing to share this delicious
confection with my friends. I know, that doesn’t sound like me. But stay with
me for a minute.
If I take a larger share of cake (OK, that does sound more
like me…), it will leave less for my friends. Because there is only one cake. I
can only have more cake if I leave less for others. This is what is referred to
as a zero-sum game. I know. Math is hard.
But here is why friendship is even better than cake. Friendships
aren’t a zero-sum game. With real friends, there is always enough cake. And
life cannot be a zero-sum game because there isn’t a finite amount of happiness
I realized I was standing with, embracing, reminiscing with
people to whom I would happily give all my cake. And that was also a win.
To my friend John, you are a huge win for all of us. Thank