Credit: Canyonlands National Park

We humans are a social species. Think ants with Facebook. In the course of our lives, hundreds of people become part of our experience. They come into our lives and then they leave. You wonder whatever happened to them.

There is a special cohort of those we meet on the road of life — old friends. I was reminded of just how special this past week when a group of my college friends met at the Denver airport to begin a visit to Canyonlands and Arches national parks in Utah.

We came from Ft. Lauderdale, Birmingham, St. Paul, Oak Park, Denver and Los Angeles. We first met at Vanderbilt University in September of 1967 as anxious freshman beginning our adult lives. Since then we have kept up with each other — marriages, jobs, children and now retirements. We have celebrated our many successes, and mourned some failures. I suppose we are more alike than different, but our differences are respected and tolerated. Put it this way: we can talk about religion and politics, and we have definitive differences on these potential friendship combustibles.

We knew each other as boys, and now we know each other as old men. When we met, none of us knew what the future might bring. Now we know. Fifty years is a long time.

As we rode our rented van through the mountain and then the desert landscape of the West, the conversations reminded me of the late-night talks we had in our dorm rooms. Some of it was serious, but much of it was that blend of raillery in which the satirical, the ribald and affection converge in shared, deep friendship. Silly college antics become the stuff of legend. Any pride in professional or material success is quickly humbled by the withering fire of your past. We all knew you before you became you.

The four days flew by. As the last day drew to a close, we stood on the edge of a magnificent precipice at Canyonlands, witnessing the vast expanse of a landscape that took millions and millions of years to create. Sharing that experience with these dear old friends is something I will long remember.

Time is surely our most precious resource.

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John Hubbuch

John is an Indiana native who moved to Oak Park in 1976. He served on the District 97 school board, coached youth sports and, more recently, retired from the law. That left him time to become a Wednesday...