Tonight was Valentin’s last training with us. He’s moving to Australia early January for six month but he has no ties in Strasbourg anymore so who knows when we’ll see him again. Farewells to teammates are always emotional and this got me thinking.

There’s an article by David Sirlin about happiness, its traps and more importantly, ways to achieve it. The whole piece is worth your time but here’s a relevant extract (emphasis mine)

Some things actually do affect your happiness level. Friends, family, and a sense of belongingness affect it.

I think if we were all a bit sad tonight, it’s because someone who belongs to our community is going away. It’s undeniable that BJJ creates bonds; you often hear talks about how tightly knit the community at large is or how academy friends are extended family. But how comes? I wouldn’t call him a close friend, and did I even know him well?

My first intuition was that on the mats, we all struggle together with jiu-jitsu, and that bonds. And even if we didn’t know each other that well, those hard times are what brought us together.

But reflecting on how much I knew about Valentin, it occured to me I do in fact know him well. I know a little about his family, I know where he comes from and where he’s trying to go; more importantly, I’ve seen him in good and bad times and I know his character. And we saw each other a couple of hours a week at training. That’s more than I can say about some of the people I actually call friends.

So is there something magical about BJJ bonding? Or do i just feel close to my teammates because I actually know them better than most other friends? I’ve also been part of teams and played individual sports before, and none of this happened. People leaving never were a big deal.

So farewell it is; I’ll here from him on facebook and here’s to hoping we meet again.