“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” — Marcel Proust
We were cleaning up at the end of a long three days of coaching training at work. A co-worker asked me my plans for the evening and when I said with a chuckle that I was going to an 80’s movie night with some friends, he looked at me with an inquisitive look and said, “I am so curious what your friends are like.” I smiled, motioned to the space the dozen of us had just shared for three days — being vulnerable, laughing hysterically, having deep, heartfelt conversations, and doing our best to learn how to better serve the needs of an aching world — and said, “They’re exactly like this.”
And, it’s true. It was a poignant moment of acknowledging that that’s exactly what my friends are. They are good-hearted, kind, loving, and compassionate. They are committed to changing the world for the better. They volunteer their time, they speak from their heart. We push each other to grow, both crying and laughing at our struggles and mistakes along the way. My friends are coaches, writers, teachers, creatives, dancers, artists, dreamers, analyzers and doers. They are wonderful human beings who reach out in support of the world, including me in their embrace — they love the messy as well as the beautiful.
“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” — Khalil Gibran
This conversation with my co-worker also reminded me that three years ago I wrote an article for the site Make Peace, Build Community called Building Your Own Community. Looking back at where I was then, it is incredibly heartwarming to see just how beautifully the fruits of that intention has played out in my life in terms of the friendships I now have. It’s also a nice reminder, as I sit with future goals that have not yet been reached, that these things do happen — it just. takes. time.
And, it takes a little magic. Because, while there have been conscious choices along the way that helped me grow my community and make new friends, there’s also an element of randomness mixed in — unexpectedly crossing paths with people that surprise and amaze me, claiming and being claimed in friendship as simply as five year olds might do on a playground, having hilarious first impressions turn out to be so, so wrong, and every now and then meeting someone new who feels like they’ve been there all along.
My friends are unique. They are wonderfully brilliant. They stretch the way I think about the world. They give me bear hugs, they make me laugh uncontrollably. They stretch my ability to be. They shower me with loving warmth. They argue and debate, and stick around to argue and debate some more. And I am eternally grateful.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” — Henri Nouwen