Al Campbell, Field Editor

October 27th, 2003

What Really Matters
By Al Campbell

About 16 years ago I worked with a guy who loved the outdoors as much as I do. We fished together in all kinds of weather and thought it was bliss. We hunted, reloaded ammunition, built rods and tied flies together preparing for our next outings. He was there for me when I went through a divorce from my first wife, a hurtful thing to say the least. A better friend can't be found anywhere.

Well, Kevin moved back to Florida after he got out of the Air Force and I lost a fishing buddy in the process. Recently Kevin started reading FAOL, and we are now in fairly regular contact with each other. Maybe we'll get to fish together sometime at a fish-in or a visit. It would be nice.

We all have old friends like that, don't we? I'm talking about those people who have stood with you through thick and thin and remain your friend after many years apart. I have several friends who now live far away that were my closest friends and confidants when we worked together and lived close to each other. Tom Cuddy, Ken Cox and Bob Banks are the names of several other friends of that caliber who I still keep contact with after more than two decades.

That brings me to my point. FAOL is like those friends in many ways. We are bunch of friends who share a lot of things in common and often spend time with each other. Some of my cyber-buddies here I haven't met in person yet, but I still share time with them. We get together at least once a week for a couple of hours in the chat room, or we write on the bulleting board. Life is too short to not have good friends.

When I think about it, I can't count the times we have said a collective prayer for a fellow FAOL buddy in a time of need. I don't remember how many times we tried to console one of our own over a loss or other personal disaster in their life. We have laughed together, cried together, prayed together, mourned together and shared many other things that only good friends share. The only link most of us have with each other is an electronic thing called an Internet, but we are friends just the same.

As with all friends, we also sometimes do a bit of fighting among ourselves. The coming cold weather and shack-nasties that arrive with it will test some of those friendships a bit I'm sure. Call it a brotherhood, family or just friends, we still have a bond that is firm in most cases. I think that's important.

I met some new friends in Idaho in September. When the cold winter winds blow, I will still call them friends even if I don't feel friendly. In fact, there were a couple of guys who said some things in March that hurt me deeply, but I still call them my friends. It's that family thing I guess. I probably said some things that hurt them too, but we are still friends, and it can be that way if we all realize that humans often say and do things that weren't supposed to come out that way. We do and did it in our own blood families when we were growing up, and it happens in our other relationships too.

When that cooped-up feeling comes along in a month or two, and we want to be anywhere but stuck indoors, I want us all to remember why we are here. We are here because we share a common bond. The things we don't share aren't important to our friendship. I suppose I've said enough for now, but I want us all to remember why we are here when the shack-nasties start eating away at us in a few months. The buddies I mentioned earlier knew what I'm trying to explain now. The important things are what we have in common. That's all that really matters anyway. ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns

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