I say this — “Life is Long” — a lot when I’m talking with people about careers, and jobs, and getting to work together on things. What I really mean when I say it, often, is not to worry overmuch about the small things, the small decisions.
Except sometimes it’s not long at all.
Yesterday I found out a friend of mine passed away after being sick for a while, at the age of 41. It’s hit me pretty hard, and I felt nauseous most of yesterday and again this morning thinking about his family.
It’s a great example of the tension between life feeling long and short. I’ve known him since high school — I think we met in 1987! — when we were both doing Latin contests (nerds!) in Texas. Then we both got to Stanford as frosh in 1989 and hung out together, since we didn’t really know anyone else — and went from knowing each other a little to becoming friends as we figured this new place out. Over the years since, we’ve interacted a few times a year. For a while he worked in venture and helped us make some important breakthroughs at my own startup. And he worked in technology companies where our paths overlapped not infrequently.
And, bizarrely, we both liked the same set of sports teams: all things Stanford (natch), the Cowboys, the Braves, and the Spurs. (And the world needs a lot more Spurs fans.) So we’d connect a few times a year, complain about the Cowboys, marvel at the Spurs and Stanford, and talk about work, our families, and increasingly our kids.
Our work would intersect from time to time over the 20 years since Stanford, and we could always just pick up in whatever new context we were in.
So I’ve been thinking a lot over the last day since I found out about the nature of friendship, and how special it is to have an easy, comfortable friendship and working relationship with someone over the space of decades. It’s hard for me to really think that we won’t see each other on something or other, and talk about sports, and kids, and life, again this year. And next, and next.
I don’t really know quite how to finish this post. No pithy saying, no big lessons. But I miss my friend already, and worry about his family. And I feel very lucky to have known him over these 25 years we we’ve become who we are.