Friendship and the joy of generosity
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to min’? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And days o’ lang syne? For auld lang syne, my jo, For auld lang syne, We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, For auld lang syne.”
– Robert Burns
A fine friendship transcends the most expensive wine. When you are with someone who is not self-conscious in your company but laughs with the abandon of a lifetime, treasures are imparted within the flow of the exchange.
This week, my friend Oz offered me this gem over dinner:
When he was living in Queens, he couldn’t make his rent. Not knowing what else to do, he took his trumpet over to a friend’s house and offered to sell it to him. His friend thought he could resell Oz’s trumpet to one of his music students. Another of Oz’s friends was on hand and asked him what he had paid for the trumpet. Oz told him he had paid $800. He was then asked how much he was selling the trumpet for. Oz said he was selling it for $300. This inquiring friend took out his checkbook and wrote Oz a check for $800. He explained that when he was a kid he always wanted to play the trumpet but that his family could not afford to even rent one for him. There was a transcendent joy in his eyes as handed Oz the check because now he could afford to buy a trumpet for himself. “Here’s the thing,” he said to Oz, “I am so busy now, I won’t be able to play it. Would you do me a favor and play it for me?” With that, he handed Oz his newly acquired trumpet.
Oz is still playing that trumpet and Oz’s daughter plays trumpet professionally, occasionally with Stephen Colbert’s Late Show band.
I have been reading Tony Robbin’s book Money, Master the Game. In it Tony talks about a stranger coming to his family’s house when he was eleven with grocery bags filled for a Thanksgiving feast. Because this one person cared for his impoverished family, Tony became motivated to care about other people. Today Tony feeds 100 million families annually. He makes the point that richness comes from the joy of giving.
“If you want to be rich, start rich.”- Tony Robbins
Julia and I are fortunate enough to be celebrating the end and the start of the year with my loving family. Almost an anomaly, my family has the warmth and compassion of good friends. Seeing my parents retain their joy of giving and the fullness of the light that they have bestowed on us, and the river of friends embraced along the way, gives me hope for the New Year.
The actress Elaine Stritch said she wasn’t old, she was older, that we are all going that way. Love offers to suppliant fear on this journey we are all taking. Each New Year’s is a portal that we pass through, quite often with a hangover, but we go though, individually bearing the life that is within us. Whatever stage we begin to appreciate the value of that particular gem, is when what we have to bestow becomes priceless.
So, “Raise your glass, raise your hope, raise your courage up high. All that we share will not be forgotten. We’ll see you again by and by. Time to go. Time to go on our Way.” – The Levins
May your way be filled with the joy of what you have to give in earnest.
Happy New Year!