Today I had a real treat — not one but two old friends briefly visiting from out of town. I first had brunch followed by a leisurely walk through Manhattan with one friend, and then soon thereafter I spent several hours in intense conversation with the other.
These are both long term friendships, each going back years, with lots of trust and caring all around. So both parts of the day were completely delightful.
Yet I couldn’t help noticing that the two conversations were very different, so the day also gave me a chance to see, close up, the different ways that I may relate to people I am close to.
With one friend the focus was very personal — relationships, connections with friends and lovers, how to express emotion through art, how best to deal with joy or with tragedy, and how to move forward in life.
The other conversation was almost entirely philosophical in nature, focusing on questions of ethics, metaphysics, the role of evolution in human behavior, our place in the larger picture, and the nature of our individual and collective responsibility to society and to the world around us.
I can easily envision having either sort of conversation with either friend, and indeed I have, through the years, discussed many diverse topics with both of them. Yet on this particular day, we had these particular conversations. Looking back on it now, it feels as though each of those conversations wanted to happen.
I’m not sure what it all means, but I can tell you for sure that it was a lot more fun than going to a movie.