It was freezing outside in Northern Michigan last summer as Trevor Sabsook and I stepped outside to stare up the night sky. It was early September and we had a weekend of adventure planned with friends from Texas and Michigan in and around Charlevoix. As we looked up, we both saw something different. We would not agree on the birth place of the stars. Our worldviews didn’t match. Such differences would send most people in different directions.
Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote one of the great treatises on friendship two thousand years ago. He reminds us the mistakes men have made over the centuries. One of the six mistakes he lists is , “Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.” While Trevor and I have shared our worldviews out of a genuine care for each other we have never drawn a line in our friendship.
I had no idea how to raise a daughter. The guide book for dads must have been lost. My neighbor across the street in the Willow Creek neighborhood of Fort Worth, Texas had a young daughter also, but I noticed something very different about him. He was patient. Trevor is one of the most patient people I’ve ever known. He was providing an excellent example for me and I learned small lessons I could apply to raising a daughter.
Unlike me, Trevor’s patience keeps him from running into things without serious thought. I run into machine gun battles with a sword, but Trevor waits and builds a plan. His contemplation before action is another great lesson he’s taught me. “It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment,” writes Cicero.
As neighbors we began to spend more time together and he and his wife Jennifer would become close friends. Our children were close in age and our careers were moving at similar paces. It is tough to develop good friendships when your children our young, but Trev’s temperament made building a friendship easy.
I have a group of buddies I go on a trip with every May now for 26 years. Trevor joined the crew for the first time in 2001. He became one of the early adopters of our annual adventure tradition. The group is made up of all kinds of personalities and Trevor is the kind that helps with all the different logistics of a trip which includes as few as ten and as many as thirty-five men some years. Trevor steps in and helps cook, clean up, and run errands. You never have to ask for help as Trevor is already looking ahead to see what is needed. He has earned the respect of countless people simply by the way he treats others.
Over two decades I’ve watched Trevor’s kindness and patience carry him through very difficult situations. He went through the experience of downsizing and had to change career directions at the same time his family made the move from Texas to Michigan. A few years after arriving in Michigan he had to work through a sad and frustrating divorce.
Watching Trevor move through this sad time of life was heartbreaking, but Trevor did what he always does; He managed it with kindness, patience and focused on his daughters and ensured he did all he could to help them through major changes. Once again, I was learning from Trevor. I saw that in life’s difficult moments you can be positive, calm, and forgiving. He lives out Cicero’s, “Non nobis solum nati sumus.”
Last summer was far from the first time Trevor and I looked up to the sky and contemplated the cosmos. Countless times over the past twenty years we’ve laid out our arguments as we sipped salty dogs and looked at the north star. We’ve found our common connections and we’ve pressed forward in wanting the best for each other and our families. He has taught me lessons which make me a better dad and friend.
Friendships go through tests. Differences, distances and changing providences generally create separation or disinterest, for us they were only seeds. As Cicero writes, “The shifts of fortune test the reliability of friends.”
We have and endless list of adventures together. Trevor is always quick to agree to many of my bad ideas such as packrafting in below freezing northern Michigan winter weather.
He’s joined me a couple of times screaming, “Go away bear and moose” hiking in Ontario.
Endless rounds of golf, skiing, fishing, hiking, snowmobiling, boating, and kayaking have led to countless hours of conversations and laughs and the growth of a friendship I greatly value.
If you do not have a friend in your life who takes a long time to make a decision. If you do not have a friend in your life who is forgiving in the most difficult of situations. If you do not have a friend in your life who has a place for everything and everything in its place, you need one. These types of people force you to reflect and leave you in awe as they manage situations with grace and thought. Trevor has always applied grace and thought to each good and difficult event in his life. He stands tall as an incredible example of life long friendship.
“Non nobis solum nati sumus. (Not for ourselves alone are we born.)”