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Ephemeral Friendships

Glasses clinked and spoons rattled against porcelain as we sat in a backstreet cafe in Tokyo. Our table was three chairs one one side and a low couch on the other.

Across from me was Jimmy. We met a couple years ago because a mutual friend moved to Jimmy's town in New Zealand. He introduced us over email and we became fast friends. Right of him was John, who I met a few days ago through Jimmy and had already bonded with over standup sushi and plans to buy a cruise ship. To my right were Adrienne, a 21 year old who keeps a fascinating journal of plans. We met briefly at Karaoke six months ago, and then got to know each other on the cruise. And at the end of the table were Chris and his girlfriend Kaori. I met Chris by random chance, having shared an apartment with a mutual friend seven years ago. It just so happens he's also friends with Jimmy.

That's about half of my social circle in Japan, at least right now. Only Chris and Kaori actually live here.

It's strange, having this ephemeral group of friends. Most will be my friends forever probably, but maybe that's the only time we'll convene in that particular group. It's not like Friends on TV where it's the same gang every episode.

Do only the things that will matter in a year

On CoreyB

If you've been paying attention to your life activities, you've already noticed that there is a general maxim for activities: if it is easy and entertaining now, it will probably be detrimental in the long run, and if it is hard and boring now, it will help you out down the line. Obviously there are exceptions - playing with a pet is easy and fun, yet has documented positive psychological effects, and doing something like fitting a lightbulb in your mouth doesn't sound fun nor is it easy, but that's not going to do much for the future you.

But those are dramatic, and rare exceptions. Scrolling your Facebook newsfeed, watching your favorite television show, tearing apart a fast food burger. These are all easy to do, and are very fun while you are doing them, but once they are done, you don't have much to show for the effort other than those fleeting moments of entertainment.

Meanwhile, think about writing something, about working out, about doing language grammar drills, or choosing to eat healthy. These are things that are classically difficult and often boring - everyone always tells themselves excuses in order to get out of them. However, after those actions are completed, you always have something to show for your time, be it a blog post, toned abs, or a better understanding of how to conjugate things in Portuguese.

There's the Past, Present, and Future, and the things that feel good in the Present look silly and trivial in the Past. The more work you put into the Present, the brighter the Future becomes. Our minds are just hardwired to seek pleasure not pain, even if the pain is just the monotony of forcing yourself to do something without an immediate payoff.

So how can you buck off your brain's whims and choose to do what's important? It's simple - choose to do the activities which will still matter in one year. One year is a long time - long enough to make you forget all the little silly things you did last year, but not so long as to be unimaginable. You could possibly scale this time period down to as low as 3 months, but the point is to have an interval that is long enough to make you forget the things you did in the day. Let's stick with a year for this example.

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