can we please occupy the same space?

is a question that I find myself wanting to ask other people more and more frequently. I swear it’s not a pick-up line.

I’m sure at this point you’re thinking: “what does that even mean?” And yes, that’s exactly the question most of my friends ask me when I ask them.

What I’m really trying to ask is whether or not we can spend time together. But here’s where things get interesting because this is kind of taboo in our day and age. People don’t just spend time together. We have to do things. Usually that’s the first question that comes up when a friend and I make plans:

Well, what should we do?

Usually, it ends up being stupid stuff like going to places we should be and doing things that we should be doing — I don’t regret spending time doing these things — but a lot of times I want to spend time with friends but be productive at the same time.

One of the biggest hurdles in my life has been the divide between my social life and my individual life. Up until recently, I invested my identity in a lot of my friends; I felt that I was only as valuable as the people in my life. And while I do think that one’s social network is one of the best investments a person can make, it’s also easy to get sucked into the mindset that your network, itself, can bring you to success. It may help you reach success, but only if you’re already moving in the right direction. A powerful network is like an prius. It would still go if it only had gas, but it will go much more efficiently and smoothly with the battery. In other words, you already need to be moving towards success for your network to help you reach it.

So, the question I’m proposing is: can you get the best of both worlds? Can you spend quality time with friends, while doing things that help you reach your goals?

I’ve been trying it out, and it’s kind of different. Instead of appreciating the cool stories and memories you will have in the future, you find splendid pleasure in the minute interactions that occur between periods of work/thoughts. The things that you do together no longer matter; what matters is that there is another person with you. It’s a fundamental shift in the structure of a relationship because you become happy with just being with another person, which means that your friends will probably always be your friends. I mean if you are happy spending time together, doing “nothing,” then you will probably spend a lot of time together. In fact, you may even find that spending time with people without doing something interesting is more enjoyable because you are able to follow your life path while the other person follows theirs. Every once in a while, those paths may converge, but even when they don’t it’s okay.

As Yogi Berra said, “when there’s a fork in the road, take it.” So next time you’re torn between spending time working on something and hanging out with a friend or two, try both.