A wise and sensitive friend of ours coined this phrase to describe her experience of the transitory encounters she experienced while traveling extensively abroad. She noted these connections’ warm intensity and the emptiness left as people continued separately on their travels.
We recognize this phenomenon as we bond with our “new best friends” in this anchorage or that marina. We share information both trivial and critical to our well-being and enjoy experiences from the sublime to the ridiculous. Our closeness and connection are real. And then, one of us weighs anchor or casts off our lines. We wonder in parting if and when we will see each other again. At times, our resulting feeling of aloneness makes it almost too hard to reach out to the next wanderer whose path we cross.
Technology affords us the opportunity to extend these connections through time and across great distances. When we invest our time in touching—usually by email or a quick look at their blog—our temporary friends often touch back.
In this fashion, I received word of Guy’s peaceful passing after his prolonged battle with cancer. I met Guy along with his wife Isabelle about six years ago in Taha’a, a French Polynesian island. Guy and Isabelle, aboard Pros Per Aim, were sharing the anchorage with my hosts Brad and Sally on board Pax Vobiscum. We enjoyed cocktails and long walks ashore. Together we viewed sunsets with the hope of seeing the Green Flash. Guy and Isabelle welcomed my efforts to practice French. Upon returning to the States, I followed their cruising blog and celebrated with them virtually as they completed their circumnavigation. Their return to land coincided with Guy’s diagnosis and I continued to follow their news of experimental treatments, remissions and relapses, responding with words of support. Until Isabelle’s words, “C’est avec une grande tristesse que je vous annonce que Guy est mort,” appeared on my screen.
Upon reflection, it becomes clear that all friendships—whether formed in elementary school or more recently—are inherently temporary. The natural limit to our time together—as is the case with most scarce commodities—increases rather than diminishes our friendships’ value.