Category Archives: Spontaneity

The spontaneity of true friendship

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.”
-Jim Morrison

“No book ever ends
When it’s full of your friends.”

– Roald Dahl

“We’ll be friends forever won’t we Pooh?” asked Piglet “Even longer,” Pooh answered.”

– A.A. Milne

Pooh and Christopher

Driving home from a late-night gig, I got a text from a friend in another time zone. I had been meaning to talk to this particular friend for over a month.   Julia and I were almost home and we had to get up early. It would have been ‘virtually’ no trouble at all to wish him well and postpone an actual conversation.  Instead, at ten minutes to 1am, I called him.  We jumped right in as if no time had elapsed between our last conversing. This kind of friendship is not dependent on rehashing our history but delights in splashing around in the moment.  He said that many of his friends get married and he is never able to talk to them without their spouses. However, with Julia and I, not only didn’t he mind, he said it was honestly refreshing to talk to both of us.  I understood what he meant about sometimes wanting to have a connection with a friend without their partner because what friendship offers us is a chance to be fully ourselves without pretense or hesitation.

There are so many restrictions on our being that we navigate through on a daily basis, we are not even aware why we feel so worn out most of the time.  With social media, we can see our friends, we can read texts, we can check our emails on our phones but there is nothing like direct contact.  I get a certain thrill when I see people reading actual books on the subway.  The other day, I saw a man reading a book about meditation and I decided to pull out a book as well in solidarity.  I started to read and the man next to me woke up and we had a wordless friendly exchange.  I am not sure he even spoke English but we smiled with one another and were augmented by our actually taking one another in.

The book I was reading was Lao Tzu’s Hua Hu Ching and he was talking about cultivating a, “natural love and respect for one’s being …one’s own being and everything in one’s environment are seen as divine in and of themselves… one may transcend all transient trivialities… it (this love and respect for one’s being) also reconnects one with the deep and constant nature of the universe.”*

Lao Tzu

That is why I have always reveled in the spontaneity of true friendship, it breaks the restrictive bonds of everything that must be accomplished to survive and instantly “reconnects one with the deep and constant nature of the universe.”

I used to say that a true exchange between friends was a battery charge. My uncle Jeff used to say that no matter how big your battery was, if you were relying only on yourself, your battery would run down but if you plugged into the wall socket…  So, perhaps true friendship isn’t about how much time we spend with one another or any tally of who gave what when but in one another’s presence, we find we are plugged in, the current is flowing, and our cup is overflowing.

BFG

Here’s to true friendship, may it break the bonds of conformity and bring us back fully to all that we are, which cannot be contained!

Love you, Ira

*- From The Complete Works of Lao Tzu, Translation and Elucidation by Hua-Ching Ni

Eulogy for a bold force of kindness

This week a woman Julia and I knew from a handful of gatherings, through a family that we are very close to, passed away. We were both moved by her passing as if we had known her our whole lives.  This was a woman who embodied the maternal. She did not apologize for being here.  She parted the waves of complacent ignorance.  Her laugh emptied you of fear and filled you with a support that encouraged your being to come forward.  She created an arena around her, a forum for whatever truth was present to be nourished. She was real in every sense of the word.  Her candor was so refreshing, not only did it put you at your ease but lightened you up so that you could laugh at your own pretense.
We went to her service and learned that when her children were being bullied in school she brought the bully to tears of contrition in the principal’s office by asking “What is hurting you so much inside that you have to make my children sad?” She was not only larger than life, she was larger than death.  When she had learned she had cancer, she refused to let it stop her from embracing the things and the people she loved.  She raised money for cancer treatment and continued to be a brash force of kindness.
The couple who introduced us to this wonderful woman, led her service.  They were strong in the way that everyone needed them to be, but not only did they put us at ease, they lifted us up to her level.  We would all be rich beyond compare to have someone lift us up after we have gone, with such good humor and earnest praise.  Certainly, she lifted herself up enough to be remembered in the best way but it takes a true friend to present us to those who didn’t know who we were and expand us to those who did.
It makes me feel very fortunate to have such amazing people in the fabric of my time here.
One of the last people to speak said that if she was there she would have said, “What were you thinking having these people get up at this hour of the morning?”
This was worth getting up early for.  It wasn’t a funeral, it was reminder to love fully, regardless of the rules; to live life on our own terms. To remember that we are all part of one delicious Self and then to be Self-ish and wrap our arms around life and not let go, even when we loose form.
For all of those who have shown us the secret value of being here, no hug is strong or long enough.