One of the more difficult life lessons to learn has been to open up and allow my true self to be known by others. For much of my life the feeling hidden inside was “if you know who I really am you won’t like me”. The lesson that came slowly was my uniqueness was not a liability and was actually what drew people to me. Trying to be what I thought others wanted either drove them away or caused them to be somewhat stand-offish of the facade I projected. They did not know in what measure it was fake for certain, but sensed an uncertainty that keep distance present. When I allow the uniquely original nature of my authentic way of being, seeing and perceiving to show through is when I am apparently the most interesting. Who would have “thunk” it!
A great benefit of learning to be more openly authentic has been a few strong and deep friendships have grown and blossomed. Of course, that bond between friends is usually with people who are just as distinctive as I am (or as “odd” if you prefer simpler clarity). After living long without truly close friends, it is with great joy that I have a few dear souls with whom I enjoy a warm and deeply trusting relationship.
It is said today we Americans have fewer true friends than ever before, replaced by lots of acquaintances. Research shows that having a large number of “casual friends” has become a sort of status symbol. It seems in modern society it pleases us to be able to say some one is a “good guy or good girl” based on limited contact. The great majority of the time such a description is made with the speaker having no substantial knowledge of the person being spoken about beyond their general public demeanor (which as often as not is only a projection of an image like I used to do!).
My discovery is friendship comes largely by chance. One never knows when meeting a person if he or she will become a rare true friend or another common acquaintance. Such knowledge only comes with time. My perception is the seed of friendship comes randomly like life does from a wind-blown seed. Once planted it lives or not based on the circumstances and environment it has been placed in. A flower seed that has sprouted in the yard can grow naturally on its own for the most part but the right attention at the right time can help it bloom with strength and vibrance. And so it is with people and friendship. Some of the greatest blessings I have are those few friends who, with few questions, would show to help if I called at 3am in the morning saying I needed their assistance.
It is beyond my ability to express my gratitude in words for my few close and dear friends. No matter how hard I might try, I would still be short of the adequate quality and quantity of words. So instead I will do what I have learned to do when I don’t know how to express my gratefulness and simply say “thank you”.
“Portrait of a Friend” – Author Anonymous
I can’t give solutions to all of life’s problems, doubts, or fears.
But I can listen to you, and together we will search for answers.
I can’t change your past with all its heartache and pain,
nor the future with its untold stories.
But I can be there now when you need me to care.
I can’t keep your feet from stumbling.
I can only offer my hand that you may grasp it and not fall.
Your joys, triumphs, successes, and happiness are not mine;
Yet I can share in your laughter.
Your decisions in life are not mine to make, nor to judge;
I can only support you, encourage you,
and help you when you ask.
I can’t prevent you from falling away from friendship,
from your values, from me.
I can only pray for you,
talk to you and wait for you.
I can’t give you boundaries which I have determined for you,
But I can give you the room to change,
room to grow, room to be yourself.
I can’t keep your heart from breaking and hurting,
But I can cry with you
and help you pick up the pieces
and put them back in place.
I can’t tell you who you are.
Live your life and risk it all.
Take some chances, take the fall.
Take your time, no need to hurry.
Have some fun, and never worry.