By Steve Moran

I used to have this self-image of me going off on a weeklong backpacking trip, talking to no one, and learning a whole bunch of things about myself.

The first time I tried it, I was in my 20s. I scraped together enough money to purchase bare minimum equipment, and after a long, five-hour drive I headed into the high country of the Eastern Sierra. I loaded up my pack, hiked 7 miles in about six hours, found a camping spot, and had no more than put down my pack when it started pouring down rain that was just barely warmer than snow.

I hustled to set up my tube tent, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a 12-foot-long tube of plastic that you string a rope through to create a poor man’s tent. And if you are also thinking it sounds like a terrible way to stay dry and cozy in a summer sierra thunderstorm, you would be equally right.

It was about as un-Zen-like as you could imagine, and I was never so glad to get home.

I splurged on a real backpack tent and headed out again. Spent Friday night trying to sleep on the ground next to my car, which was parked in a wide spot next to the highway just outside Kings Canyon National Park so I could be first in line to get a wilderness permit the next morning.

Bleary-eyed, I stood in line for an hour waiting for the office to open, got the trail permit I wanted, and started filling out the paperwork. At that moment I heard voices behind me that I recognized. I turned around to see my aunt and uncle standing in line behind me. I was so happy because I could go with them, and it was at that moment I realized, this alone-in-the-wilderness thing was not my thing.

I needed people then and still need them today.

Conference Season

During conference season, my people bucket — my friend bucket — gets filled to overflowing. And while I have some friends back home, my people bucket needs a pretty regular refilling. During the summer conference drought, it gets pretty empty, and I am still trying to figure out how to better fill it and keep it full.


I came across this article in the Wall Street Journal titled “No Time For Friends? Try the ‘Friendship Snack’” that really resonated. It turns out that we can refill our friendship buckets pretty efficiently. Five minutes or so of meaningful conversation about what is going on in each other’s life is all it takes.

It has to be more than a quick meme; “thinking of you”; forwarded article; or funny or meaningful TikTok, Instagram reel, or YouTube short. Those are more likely to leave you less fulfilled than if they had not been sent.

Here is what works:

  • Pick up the phone, or set up a video call. Schedule five, 10, or 15 minutes. You’re both busy. Do more than business or trivia.
  • Record a three-to-five-minute voice memo, or maybe even a video if you are comfortable talking into the camera.
  • Share a video, but take the time to tell the person why you thought they would like it.
  • Texting can work if done in the right context. A few days ago I got a long series of texts from my friend Mark Rockwell where we talked about several things that were meaningful to both of us. Maybe the phone would have been better, but we both happened to be awake at 4 a.m., so text worked better — just ask my wife.
  • Figure out what works best for each of your friends. Some will be happier with texts, others with video or a phone call.

The research shows that friends like hearing from us more than we realize. It is like getting a little birthday or Christmas gift. The biggest thing is that it has to be personal. You can’t send out a friendship snack to 10 people and expect them to feel fed.

Imagine the impact on your life if you received a couple of friendship snacks each week. Imagine the impact on others if you delivered three friendship snacks each week.