Awesome is the word - we've visited 125 friends in the past six weeks! What we're planting inside ourselves as we see our friends is something everlasting, a warming of hearts, a rekindling of friendships and a restocking of the happy memory bank in our minds.
We all know that seeing a friend has this positive effect, but sometimes we repeatedly push it away in pursuit of happiness by other means. But in the pursuit of "achieving" this other happiness, we usually neglect what we know does make us happy: spending time with friends.
With my wife Debs and our two boys, Daniel, 5, and Darley, 3, plus Colin the dog, we're on a quest to visit as many Facebook friends as possible, giving money to charity for each person we visit, in a venture we've dubbed the Face2Facebook Project.
So for a few months, in our superb Swift Escape motorhome - which we downsized our house to afford - we've travelled around Britain staying on amazing Camping & Caravanning Club campsites, and are presently in Spain where Debs grew up. We're heading home via France, Switzerland and Holland.
This is where we are now, but it all started with my Uncle David three years ago. After celebrating his 67th birthday with a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands, he developed a sore throat. Three weeks later, he died from oesophageal cancer.
A year afterwards, my best friend Tim - a 48-year-old from Chicago I'd met travelling in the Caribbean two decades earlier - emailed me before Christmas with the shocking message: "I might just kill myself." Two months later, despite my best efforts as a friend, he took his life.
In the months afterwards, it really hit that life doesn't always go as you think. We were shocked we hadn't seen David or Tim for far too long, and much longer than we thought when we worked it out. As happens, we'd intended to, but... the phrase we keep hearing is that "life gets in the way". But isn't seeing friends the best thing in life?
If there can be any solace from our losses it's that we've been compellingly reminded of this. So our idea started forming. But rather than it just be about us visiting friends, we want to inspire others to see their friends, and to raise money for charity together as we do.
So this is where we are now, spending every day seeing our friends and family. That we're donating £2 to charity for everyone we visit only increases the depth of joy. Added to that, that we're encouraging everybody we see to visit a friend or family member and then to also donate to charity makes it all the better. We're suggesting they encourage their visited friend to visit someone too, and on and on... Yes, you can do this now! Try it, touching noses with a friend is great fun!
We also wanted to highlight that seeing someone for real, face to face, is incomparably better than staring at them through a flat screen. So we're posting a "nose2nose" pic on our Facebook timeline to show how the smiles always come when you see a friend - and inspire others to follow the #face2fbproject slogan: "go see your people!" We're encourage everyone who takes part to post too, on our FB Timeline as well as theirs (and on Twitter too).
As we go about our journey, we're discovering some interesting things about friendship.
i. It's great to make new friends, and life will present that chance, even if you're 90. Be open to it!
ii. Spend time together as a family and you'll build the friendship there. A family that plays together stays together!
iii. Long-time friendships still grow. (In fact, the older we get the more we mean to each other.)
iv. Life is about people, especially friends. Friends are people. Therefore, all people have potential to be your friends. Go find the new ones as you see the older ones.
v. Love makes us laugh and cry. Friendship is love; love is friendship. Embrace them both with all your heart. Hold nothing back for if you do you have nothing.
vi. Are friends electric? Yes! We've met four people we call friends who we'd only previously "met" through social media. Social media doesn't replace a hug, but you can get friendships through it (then visit them for the hug!).
vii. If you have children, by visiting your friends their and your children can become friends too. You may have started a friendship for a whole lifetime. That's priceless.
viii. Every friend is wonderful in their own way and we wouldn't want them any other way than them being relentlessly themselves.
ix. Friend - ORIGIN Old English frēond, of Germanic origin; from an Indo-European root meaning 'to love'.
x. Friends and family are the most important thing in this world. Do the "rocking chair test": imagine yourself as a 90-year-old sat in your rocking chair looking back on life. There can only be two main thoughts - "I'm so happy I spent all that time with my friends." Or: "Oh no... I got it all so wrong, and now it's too late..." So - visit a friend today!
Join in with our journey here:
Facebook page: http://goo.gl/w8adB0
Then, when you've visited your friend (so given to yourself, given to your friend, also give to charity!) - JustGiving: https://www.justgiving.com/Face2fb/Suggest a correction