In 1995 I was looking for an adventure and a way to escape the Dallas traffic and the struggle to advance my career. I found that escape with my then close friend David Rutherford and the quiet of the Sacramento mountains. We jumped in a old Honda Civic at 6pm one May evening and arrived in the mountains at 5am the next day. We pitched a tent and woke about 9am in the middle of paradise and spent the next few days relaxing and hiking. It was rejuvenating and a great time with a friend. It meant so much that we have kept this annual tradition 17 times and have invited dozens of others to join us throughout the year.
I am currently at 32,000 feet above those same mountains and sitting in first class as I fly back home from a weekend conference in California. I am a world away from my life and career so many years ago. Yet, the tradition of escaping with friends will continue for an eighteenth year in just a matter of hours.
I was making minimum wage and working all hours of the day back in 1995. I still work a lot of hours, but I find much more pleasure in my work now than I did then.
David has returned on numerous May Club trips over the years, however, he has been missed over the last few years. I would wish that he would attend every annual sabbatical as others do, but friendships are tricky rivers to navigate sometimes.
Much has changed over the years: my family has grown, my career has changed, and my friendships have been a mix of jingles and jangles. We all change as we grow older and sometimes others do not manage those changes well, or we do not manage their changes.
In a marriage people change a great deal. The reality of marriage is that we are to be working through those changes and remaining committed to the covenant of marriage. My wife has changed much over the 25 years I've known her, and I love her more now than I did 25 years ago, even though she is a very different person. She'll have to speak to her feelings, but I can say for 25 years she has remained committed to the marriage as well in spite of my changes. Shouldn't friends do the same?
I believe relationships are eternal, so dismissing a friendship is unacceptable to me, even when there are dramatic disagreements.
Some friends have stepped off into poor behavior, bad religion, or serious apathy, but, it has never changed my desire to pursue the friendship. And many of my friends never shared my worldview, belief, or ethics, but it didn't mean I could not pursue the relationship.
That has become the story of The May Club. This group of men that come together each May to enjoy the outdoors,adventure, and each other. It has become more than an escape each year, but more of a commitment to each other.
When the event is over and the stories are being told, there is still a pursuit of friendship well beyond mountain climbing, hiking, kayaking hunting, fishing, and more.
I guess what I find incredulous, is that those that have a life defined by 'religion' are many times the ones that fail to invest and pursue others.
This is guised by busyness, distance, and the like, but I have never found those to be that impeding especially in the day of cell phone, email, texting and Facebook.
While I have experienced disappointment in people that I thought were committed to eternal friendship, I have found much satisfaction in the pursuit of others and the commitment to friendship even with disagreement or disappointment.
We should all make the commitments to others and that commitment should remain no matter the changes in the individual.
If they grow in faith, knowledge, skill and more, then we stand to benefit from participation. If they are suffering we can be their support. If they disagree, we can offer sound argument. If they have need, we can meet it. But apart from the pursuit of friendship, none if this is possible.
The May Club is a tradition of men coming together each May to relax, laugh, and seek adventure, but beyond May, it is the pursuit and enjoyment of friendship and life together.
Here's to the 18 years and 75 men of the May Club and our friendships. Here's to hoping a few friends will return.