You may not be able to share a coffee with them as often as you like, or spend time with them in person, going for walks, picnics, or on excursions.
You miss them, every time you want to share your joy; you nostalgically think of them as you walk around in the places known and beloved to you, places where you were perhaps once together, talking about things you love and feeding your dreams.
These special friends are ones you acquired in different corners of the planet. You met them as you were wandering around the globe, when you mutually were looking for new experiences and both motivated by your natural curiosity about the world.
Every friend has a wonderful story in a charming place. Sharing new experiences together while recognizing and bridging cultural, geographic and linguistic gaps.
I have many loving friends, like those I aforementioned. I also have those who live close to me. Either way, my friends have not come into my life for reasons of convenience, because they live nearby or because our ages matched, or our social status was similar. We became friends because they are wonderful people with whom I can share moments, ideas, life instances, laughter, smiles, worries, dreams, feelings as authentic as those that authentic people share; they are not hypocrites, they are not pretenders, they endorse real friendships and they do not use their friendships to serve self-serving purposes. They are simply their own, wonderful, shining and real selves.
Thus, I miss my remote friends who are scattered in different parts of the world. I’m glad to learn that they are fine, but I miss them. I’m pleased to look at the map of the earth and mark places that for me symbolise landmarks of joy because of them.
Thanks to current technology, I can hear all their news and talk frequently with them via social media and email. I remember back to a time when I sent letters via traditional mail and I wondered “Will it arrive ok? Will it reach the person in time?”. I can’t remember how many times these letters got lost along the way, or they arrived for a friend’s birthday a month late! Today all these issues are solved with the mere use of a keyboard and I can have daily contact with my loved ones who are far away.
The mind grows, imagination spreads, love deepens for all these travelers of my heart. And it is this love that nullifies the distance and shrinks space-time, keeping the thought of these dear friends alive.
The other day, an American friend of mine, whom I met in Thailand and is currently residing in Germany, sent me a message from the airport that he was returning for a few weeks to his hometown. As I sent him back my wishes for a good trip, I felt that he was nearby, and I felt happy with the idea. Indeed, my wishes offered him a positive mood and energy. Furthermore, this communication allowed me to travel with my imagination to the other side of the world, to smile and feel the love and interest of a dear friend. The following day he sent me photos from Miami and I felt as if earth had become smaller and the distances were no longer as great.
Another girlfriend from Norway with an endless smile recently sent me a photo of her newborn child and her partner. I spend hours chatting on Skype with my heartfriends from Paris, and it was like when we were in the same city together, drinking a coffee and enjoying time together. This time is so precious to me, like a rare gem.
I have a beloved friend and old col
league from Switzerland who I often exchange messages with, even simply to wish each other a good day and say that we remembered one another as we walked to a park that we used to walk to together or that we ate our favorite Swiss chocolate or heard news about Greece or Switzerland. More often than not, we take turns visiting each other. Now it’s my turn. Even when we haven’t seen each other for a year, as soon as we meet, it feels like time has been frozen and we start again from where we left off.
Another Australian friend tells me that she is thinking of coming to Athens for a few months. She asks what places would be nice to visit when she comes here. We have started making plans.
When it’s my turn to be the visitor, I like to go see my friends in Cyprus, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United States and Great Britain, whenever I can. These meetings are alive, full of tender moments, carefree instances, positive emotions and sincere interest. It is a life investment, like any deep friendship.
Beyond the (unfortunately) small amount of time I spend together with these world friends, I feel that interacting with them makes me a better person. Since the first moment I came in contact with them, when I was a 23 year old student in Paris, I noticed that I began to “dig” into my restrictive beliefs and stereotypes acquired from my narrow “ethno-cultural” education as a neo-Greek. This does not mean that I love my country less. Au contraire! It just means that I have started to become more open to other ideas, more tolerant and receptive to diversity (of all kinds), more understanding of the humour of other nations with love and respect for their culture.
At some point I was surprised to note that all this had as indirect, but essential, result – the enrichment of my own personal ideas. Greater creativity, grafted by memories, knowledge, and an experience with people from different places gave me a greater sense of unity with our earth as an ecological whole, integrating me in an indivisible way.
However, the strangest of all the consequences of this interaction was the re-evaluation of my own culture, my desire to learn more about Greek civilization, to be consciously content about my origins and to become free from the famous defeatism-shame-devaluation so present in the Neo-Greek attitude in relation to its history and its past; to thoroughly contemplate with respect and a high sense of value my Hellenic identity and to stand as responsible and creative as possible towards it, in order to better understand its place, and my own, as a necessary part of the whole – the World Community we embrace with international friendships.
Therefore, every moment I spend learning the news of my world friends, my reality travels to their own lands, and their presence is united with my Greek reality. A presence that even from a distance is a god-sent gift, an honourable and exciting aspect of life. And this for me is a clear example of the Ecumenical Human.
If you want to share your experience concerning your own international friends and how friendship betters your life, scroll down and write your feedback.
Seriously! I am more than happy to listen your own story!
Last modified: November 18, 2018