Thursday, June 19, 2008


I was sent this by a very good friend who I admit I have fallen out of touch with. This email for one reason or another came at a good time for me. I truly appreciated it. As for the friend that sent it, I know that when we do get together I know we will be able to pick up right where we left off. Thanks, Christine!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

How to Calculate Your Real Wealth

by Alexander Green Dear Reader,

"It is one of the blessings of old friends," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "that you can afford to be stupid with them."

This is true. I know because I just survived one of the stupidest weekends of my life. (See photo.)

Twenty-five of my oldest and dearest friends converged on the Villas of Grand Cypress in Orlando for a weekend of eating, drinking, golfing, and, yes, much stupidity.

Old stories were told. Old lies were repeated. Old insults were traded. (Along with a few new ones.) It was heaven.

This particular group was not my work buddies, my college buddies, my neighborhood buddies or my tennis buddies. No, these are the derelicts who have stuck with me my whole life. Some of them were in my kindergarten class.

My friend Rick Pfeifer brought his daughter Courtney, a senior at Florida State, to dinner Friday night. I've known Courtney for more than 20 years, too. I used to pick her up and hold her when she was a baby. (I told Rick I'd like to pick her up and hold her now, but he said "no.")

These are not just old companions. These are the guys who will show up at my funeral even if it's raining. (Assuming I don't outlive these alcoholics.)

It has been said many times, but you really can't put a price on friendship. Our true friends are the ones who have known us the longest, understand us the best, and yet choose to hang out with us anyway.

Friends like these are irreplaceable. They are the wine of life. The classical world understood this well:

"There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship," said Saint Thomas Aquinas. "Without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious."

The Greek philosopher Antisthenes said, "There are only two people who can tell you the truth about yourself - an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly."

"It is a good thing to be rich, it is a good thing to be strong," observed the tragedian Euripides, "but it is a better thing to be beloved of many friends."

The Roman playwright Plautus said simply, "Your wealth is where your friends are."

Yet we don't always appreciate these riches. We can take our friends for granted. We may get too busy or self-involved to check on them, to see how they're doing. Without meaning to, we lose touch.

A few months ago, out of the blue, I received a phone call from my old college roommate, Brian Darby. He invited me to join him - and a few other old fraternity buddies - for a weekend at his golf club near Tampa.

I had lost touch with Brian more than 25 years ago. He has sons now who are nearly the same age we were when I saw him last.

Yet from the very first slap on the back, it was clear that no time had passed. Nothing had changed. It didn't take 10 seconds to reconnect - or for us to begin retelling those old stories. In short, much stupidity ensued.

It was bliss.

During this past weekend's revelry, our group received the news that political journalist Tim Russert had suddenly collapsed from a heart attack at work and died. He was 58. While none of us knew Russert personally, we were momentarily dumbstruck. Everyone in the room was shaking his head and thinking the same thing: "There but for the grace of God..."

We resolved then and there to stop waiting for a reason and start making plans to get together each year. (We even decided to call it The Annual Tim Russert Invitational in honor of the man whose passing inspired us.) After all, most of us are already on the back nine. Why wait?

We've chosen next year's organizer. And each year we intend to meet at a different locale for more camaraderie. More fellowship. More stupidity.

How about you? Do you have an old friend out there who would be delighted to see you or thrilled - as I recently was - to get an unexpected phone call?

If so, reach out. Call them. Meet them for lunch. Be the organizer who pulls your old group together. (Trust me, you'll get extra accolades for that.) Do it - and you are guaranteed a rewarding experience.

After all, these are not our relatives, our neighbors, or our business colleagues. These are the folks above all others that we choose to spend our time with. That doesn't just make them rare or special.

It makes them priceless.

Carpe Diem,


P.S. In July, I'll be speaking at FreedomFest in Las Vegas.

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