A long while ago a coworker’s son died in a car accident. He was her only child. The news came in an afternoon. She and I worked at the same place. We only knew each other by sight. I came to work the next morning with her heavy on my mind. A couple of hours into the workday, I decided to visit her. I asked for the rest of the day off. It was about 30 min drive from where I was. The house looked empty from the outside. I walked to the door and knocked. She answered and was very surprised to see me. She said, that her husband had gone out to make funeral and other arrangements. She said, “I didn’t want to go anywhere. I was worried that I was going to be alone today. I prayed that I don’t want to be alone”. She then hugged me crying profusely. I spent the rest of the day and late into the evening at her house.
People come into our lives in many ways and at different times. Some stay with us for a while. Some are there just for a flash, like a ray of light hitting a mirror, makes a bright glare, and then bouncing off to infinity. Only a handful of people are with us from the beginning. Everyone else comes in and out during our lives’ journey. No matter when the connection is made, it highlights a good time, a bright time, or a fortunate time in our lives. Wouldn’t you agree?
To the coworker, I was the flash who made the bright glare on that day.
“Some days you will be the light for others, and some days you will need some light from them. As long as there is light, there is hope, and there is a way.” -Jennifer Gayle.
There’s no doubt that good friends add to the fullness of our lives. People become friends because of the connection they make with you and you make with them. Without that connection, they are just people who are around you. Therefore, the value of friendship lies in the authenticity and honesty of that connection.
“Friendship is not in words but in meaning” - Henry David Thoreau
“The better you are at surrounding yourself with people with high potential, the greater your chances of success” – John Maxwell.
Sometime during my teenage years, my parents held a lavish social event. There were a ton of people at our house. Late into the evening, my father began to discreetly point out people to me. He asked me to remember them. I knew every one of the people he pointed out. They were frequent visitors to our house. The next day, he said, “Son, you need to know the circle of your friends. They fall into two categories. One category is the Flower Pots and the other is the Workhorses. The Flower Pots are good at keeping you company, good at entertaining others for you, good at spreading the good word on behalf of you. The Workhorses come to do the heavy lifting when you need it. They may not be gentle with you. They are with you before you ask for their help. My father continued, “your circle of friends should include both. As a matter of fact, you will have way more Flower Pots than Workhorses, but that’s OK and that is how it should be”. I asked him about friends that don’t belong to either category. He said, “they are just the people out there”. “What about bad friends? I asked. He said, “there is no such thing as a bad friend; If someone hurts you or hurting you, then that person is not a friend. Just like no such thing as a holy war”. “One more thing”, he said, “to some, you will be a Flower Pot, for others you will be a Workhorse. That will be up to you!”
“Friendship isn’t one big thing. It’s a million little things.” - Unknown
In April I got a call from Jeff Sheehan. Until that call, he was just another Toastmasters I knew. “Manuja how are doing? I heard Delta is going through some very difficult times”. Are you going to be OK?” That single call, his concern, his care changed the dynamic of my friendship with him.
Last month Marcia called me and asked me to give a speech. “I had already given one”, I replied”. Then, she gave me a reason. Her insight, that little shove, helped me to break out of my general speech mold. She didn’t stop there; “you need to consider rewriting your LinkedIn profile”.
Friends see you!
“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to keep in touch and to be present. The most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.” - Rachel Naomi Remen.
At the beginning of my 20s, I was a lost soul. I had no aim in my life. During this time, I met a Buddhist monk. He was full of wisdom. He had the most pleasant and calming voice I have ever heard of. He spoke to me about life and experiences. I began to visit him several times a week. Probably more times than I should. But he didn’t mind. If I ever visited him any time before noon, he would be sure to share a meal with me. It was an unusual thing for a monk to do. They dine in seclusion. Looking back, I realize that he had kept me afloat! Then I became busy – with what I still don’t know. I stopped visiting him. His temple was at the entrance to our neighborhood, and my parents’ house was at the end of the neighborhood. So, all that time I went back and forth from my parents’ house I had to go past his temple. Looking back, I realized that I was avoiding him. Why I don’t know. Perhaps, I was an incorrigible child. As the years passed by, lamentably, he became a distant memory. About 5 years ago, I stopped at his temple. I wanted to make amends. I went up the stairs and knocked on his room. No answer. I came back down, went around the temple, and but didn’t see any monks were around. As I was walking out of the temple, a monk was walking in. I asked him about my monk friend. After a moment of silence, he said that monk passed away a little over a decade ago. My heart sank. He had kidney disease, and he refused a transplant. Even on his deathbed he never wavered from the Buddhist ideals. Had I kept in touch with the monk I would have been able to give him good company when he needed it. Like he kept me company during my low tide.
Regret is a wound that will never heal.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” - Anais Nin
Show gratefulness to your friend.