You Lose What You Don’t Value
Making time for the people that matter
This newsletter features weekly musings about life, career, identity, and behaviour by a questioning African centennial. To get it in your inbox every week, subscribe here ⬇️
This week, I want to make a brief call to action based on a lesson I learnt from certain events in my personal life.
Recently, I’ve been called out a lot by some of my friends who felt that I don’t value our friendship enough because it sometimes takes me ages to respond to texts, and I never call. I tried to explain it away by reiterating that I’d been busy, plus I dislike calls anyway.
One of them was not having any more of it and just stopped responding to my messages—to this day. I’ve probably lost that friendship. Another one, who was more of an acquaintance, recently blocked me because I went a whole month without responding to their text. Essentially, it’s been horrible. I’ve been horrible.
The thing is that most of my friends are far away from me. Because, since 2016, I haven’t lived in the same country for a full year without having to move, I’m in many long-distance friendships with people I befriended in different locations.
The thing with anything that’s long-distance is that you have to nourish them with intentional and frequent communication. That’s what I didn’t understand, at least not as thoroughly as I do now.
There’s something I found on Twitter a while ago that kept coming to mind as I was having way too many difficult conversations with my friends about my trashiness. I redrew it a few days ago in my journal (pardon my penmanship) to better imprint it in my mind.
It explains how at the initial stage of desire, the value we place on the things and people we want to have in our lives is at its peak. But as we become more familiar with them, we tend to become complacent and stop being on our best behaviour because we feel a sense of security that blinds us to the fact that we could lose them.
But what can we do to remind ourselves of the potential impermanence of the people in our lives and the need to value them (and let them know we do) while we have them in our lives?
Let’s turn to philosophy.
The stoics live by a mantra, memento mori, which means ‘remember you must die’. It’s a reminder to live every day like it was your last and take in every moment of life with a sense of reverence and appreciation.
Steve Jobs also famously said: “If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll be right. Every morning I looked in the mirror and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I do today?”
Applying memento mori to the context of friendships and relationships reminds us that the people in our lives that matter won’t always be there. Even if they don’t leave our lives because of some misunderstanding or some natural drifting apart, they will undoubtedly be forced to leave our lives by death.
It’s a very grim thing to think about. I know. But it’s an effective way to keep at the top of our minds an inevitable truth of life and get ourselves to value the people in our lives while we still have them.
The past year has been a masterclass on unexpected loss for a lot of us. With COVID taking the lives of people around us, most of us found ourselves both shocked and regretful. Regretful because we wish we spent more time with them. Or, in some cases, we wish we’d responded to that message they sent to us a month ago.
Things don’t have to get that bad before we remember to make time for the people in our lives that we care about. But the thought that things could get that bad might help to keep us on our toes.
Appreciate the people you care about, make time for them, text them, call them, and be there for them before it’s too late. That is the call to action of this week’s newsletter.
See you next week!
- Arinze ❤️
🙋🏽♂️ Ask Arinze
This section features questions from readers of Arinze's Weekly
How does one understand the quality of people who lack a personal statement to define their life.
Okay, this is going to be a short one.
The quality of a person isn’t defined by whether they have a personal statement for their lives or not. Instead, it’s determined by their character, their values, and the things they prioritise. I hope this helps.