I’ve known my friend Ron now (I don’t know the exact number of years) long enough. That is to say, there was a Ron Gardner before there was a “Ron Gardner knows Michael Lydick” . That part of his life (BM, “before Me”) is laden with colorful characters and encounters that precede anything I ever influenced. See, I haven’t known Ron forever, but I’ve known him arguably, long enough.
In that long enough period of time, he’s not once raised his voice to me. I sat here cycling through the Rolodex of my memory. Not. One. Time. We’ve had 1 fight that I can ever remember in close to 20 years, and if I’m honest – it was me being angry and him just trying to tell me he was sorry. The entire episode lasted maybe an hour. Friends like that, well, it’s comforting and simultaneously unsettling. Someone you fearfully wonder on your own, “What would I have to to do make them irreparably angry at me?” I suspect I know the answer to that question but I’ll die before I prove out the theory.
In the period between “now” and “long enough”, almost every dollar I’ve made doing something, I’ve shared with him. Every flake of manna that has, is falling, or will fall from the sky for the foreseeable future – we split. Our failure or success or our mutual mediocrity in business – is, well, mutual. And it occurred to me that not once in “long enough” have I ever questioned his integrity. Were I forced to wager in fact, I would garner that my pile of manna flakes ‘post-Ron-division’ has a few more than his pile.
Somewhere between now and long enough. I’ve seen more of the world, done more things, and experienced more adventures than I had with any 10 people leading up to and including the long enough time. In fact, my Facebook photo albums are a colorful cacophony of things built…places gone to…people met and hands shaken once there. I swear sometimes a good third of theses things are born into existence via the sheer will and life force of my long enough friend. ( I secretly hope that I will meet my end one day during such an undertaking, as opposed to slobbering on myself in a hospice bed somewhere. )
Between now and long-enough-ago, I’ve watched my friend bring young man after young man alongside himself on his own journey and attempt to mentor them with what knowledge and experience he’s accumulated. Most listen. Some, haven’t. I imagine him telling them what Robert Duvall’s “Secondhand Lions” character told his movie proteges. When I heard these words, I thought I heard my friend’s voice saying them…
“Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good. That honour, courage and virtue mean everything ; that power and money … money and power mean nothing. That good always triumphs over evil. And I want you to remember this…. that love….true love never dies ! Remember that boy … remember that. Doesn’t matter if it is true or not, a man should believe in those things , because those are the things worth believing in…… got that ? ”
I don’t have much in the way of family. My own brother and sister are more or less ‘in the wind’ having drained me of what resources they could before casting me off; moving on. For all intents and purposes I’m a 45 year old orphan. But I am neither poor in spirit, or to be pitied- in any sense. For in the words of acclaimed Christian apologist Alistair Begg,
“If you have one true friend in the world, you are very rich”
Today is his birthday. And it gets harder every year to think of what to wrap in paper and hand off to him in celebration of the day. What do you get someone who at any moment in time, is Wyatt Earp, Thomas Edison, and the American Sniper rolled into one person? They don’t have categories for that guy on Amazon. But I can write. And acknowledge. And have gratitude. And my long enough friend would probably say “that’s enough”.