I got an email from a girlfriend’s honey, “It’s Kate’s birthday. I’d love to get her friends together for a surprise weekend party.”

My first thought: Cool! I’m there!

My second thought: But I’m sooo busy. (This would require a few airplanes and four days “out of my life.” Insert BLAH BLAH excuses.)

My third thought: I’m ‘sposedly “all about Love and freedom.” Freedom with my friends! Must make it happen.

Reframe: It’s not four days “out of my life,” this is four days FOR my life.

I don’t have many regrets in this life. But of the few that linger, it’s distinctly the times that I missed out on time with friends. The two weddings I didn’t go to because I was too broke for the airfare. (Being late on rent wouldn’t have gotten me evicted. Maxing out a credit card would have done the trick. I could have borrowed the money from … a friend.) The friend I didn’t visit in the hospital because I was on a book deadline. The birthday party I didn’t get to because of a minor inconvenience…

Not-quite-living is an epidemic. We know this.

Life is fostered in devotion — to your craft, your god, to your friends.

But this kind of patheticness happens: “Friends and family, yep — #1 in my life!” And then we decide that instead of that trip to Bali, we’ll spend our money on re-carpeting the house. Or we buy more clothes when a few hundred bucks could really help out a buddy. Or we don’t go to the party because we had a long day at work. We say no because we’re tired. BORING! LAME! NOT… LIVING.

Kate’s birthday weekend was historic, of course. At three in the morning, with four of us sprawled in the living room in various states of undress, eating peanut butter out of the jar and talking about dreams, and boys & girls, and waxing, and all the dumb shit we’ve done to get ahead in life, we had a shared realization and made a pact: