Love, Laughter and the Meaning of Life

Posted 03.28.2016

Last week, I was reminded of the value of old friends.

While I was back in DC to teach in the Georgetown Leadership Coaching Program, I got to spend three days teaching with my dear friend of 13 (!) years, Rae Ringel. On one of the days we there together, I got to have lunch with another dear friend and mentor of 14 (!) years, Frank Ball. (That’s the three of us in the picture that accompanies this post.) I had dinner one night with another good friend over the years, Mike McGinley, and dinner on another night with a former client and friend of around 13 years, Doug Krey.

In each and every case, I reveled in the opportunity to connect on a deeper level than one does in most day to day interactions. I’ve known each of these people so long that we’ve shared births, deaths, career challenges, health crises, laughs, sadness, triumphs, defeats and, really, just a lot of life together. Both during and after the moments I shared with them, I realized how lucky I am to have old friends with whom I’ve shared so much life.

And then, a day or two after I got home, I watched a recent episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. If you’re not familiar with the show, Seinfeld spends a day driving around in a classic car with one of his friends and they eventually end up getting coffee. The episode I watched was one he shot last year with his “dear old friend” Garry Shandling. As you’re likely aware, Shandling died suddenly last week. His conversation with Seinfeld is apparently one of the last things he did on camera.

Do yourself a favor and take twenty minutes to watch it sometime this week. The love these guys had for each other is evident from the moment they met for the drive.  They talked about the same kinds of things you’d talk about with an old friend – memories, health, relationships, work – they’re just funnier than most of us would be. They also spent a lot of time talking about death and the meaning of life. About halfway through the episode, Jerry started talking about the death of comedian David Brenner a year earlier and lamenting all of the material that Brenner developed that is now of no use to anyone else. So much hard work wasted, he more or less said. Garry’s reply was for the ages, “That material, your material, is purely a vehicle for you to express your spirit and your soul and your being.”

Especially in light of his death a few months later, Shandling’s comment to Seinfeld feels like this enormous gift. It’s a gift that wouldn’t have been given if they hadn’t made time to spend an afternoon together.

There are people in your life that you share a history with. Why not take a step or two this week to set a time with them to share your love for each other, laugh a bit and maybe discuss the meaning of life? There’s no time like the present.