Investing time in relationships enriches the journey
It was 1976, and I was in my last quarter of law school at the University of Tennessee. One of my final elective courses of study was International Law, taught by visiting scholar and professor Clive Parry of Cambridge University. And while I knew this would be yet another opportunity to prepare me for a life in law, little did I know that meeting him would alter the course of my life entirely.
Late in the quarter, I walked into another class in the College of Law only to find a note on the chalkboard telling me to report to the Dean’s Office after class. When I arrived, I found Professor Parry there with an invitation for me to join him at Cambridge University that fall to spend a year studying International Law.
While studying overseas was daunting, I eventually found my way through the connections made with fellow students who had arrived from all over the world to study the same coursework as I. One of those was Richard Turnbull, an Aussie student; we were drawn to each other like magnets. We spent the year studying law and seeking adventures far and wide.
I returned to Knoxville to begin my life in law. Richard eventually became a Crown Prosecutor in Hong Kong and traveled extensively back to the United States in pursuit of international travel fraud. We would generally meet at a ski resort in the Rockies—as we were both avid skiers—and he has visited Tennessee on several occasions, entertaining my friends and family with his Aussie humor and stories of our year, as we swapped stories of cases we’ve handled.
My introduction to Richard helped me realize that there are no chance meetings. Doors open for a reason. It’s our choice, however, if we walk through them. Perhaps that’s why I came to understand early on how critical it is to invest time in relationships and not let the meaningful ones go, even if how we connect gets challenging.
Here in Knoxville, I’ve taken the lessons learned from Richard’s friendship and have never let them go. After 44 years, I still have a core group of friends from my time at the College of Law whom I make the effort to stay connected with every week, be it through Friday night dinners or mornings on the golf course.
Amidst many milestones over the years of marriages, new homes, growing families, and now grandchildren, they have been there as an extended family, and it’s been my realization that the bond we share is not the golf or dinners or the Monday afternoon beers at Sullivan’s. The bond is the long, deep friendship we have all shared simply because we put the time and effort into maintaining it.
These relationships have provided me with memories and shared experiences that I would not trade for the world. And while technology, a nomad society, or a rampant pandemic may change the way we approach them, it is our willingness to invest ourselves in those relationships that will enrich our lives and give meaning to the journey.