|Patrick and Christopher at 6th grade camp.|
Thursday, April 23, 2015
The Alchemy of Friendship
I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately.
About new worlds...only made by the intersection of two people's paths at just the right moment.
You have to be ready.
The other person has to be willing.
Some sort of magic happens and like a chemical experiment...
where there were once two separate chemicals, now there is unity...
The ability to just be yourself without pretense and let the friend be the same.
Such a gift.
It can't be orchestrated.
It can't be forced.
We can wish for it.
Pray for it.
Dream about it...
but like a kite catching air,
it has to have just the right angle,
just the right amount of wind,
the exact moment when majestically it soars.
When you have a child with a disability, you wonder in the dark of night if that child will be able to connect and have a friend...
not someone who is nice to them.
That's too easy.
No, you dream of something deeper.
A genuine enjoyment of each other.
Laughter and lightness woven with acceptance.
Like a unicorn, this kind of friendship seems mythical.
Is it possible?
The answer is yes.
These two have been friends for a long time.
They don't need much.
They find ways to laugh and have fun almost immediately.
There is a realness and a genuine joy with each other that is palpable.
There's no awkward tension of trying too hard...or wanting it too much.
No, there's just a couple of goofballs.
Sunken into the comfy couch of friendship.
Patrick and Christopher were in the same class from first grade to sixth grade.
Then, in 6th grade, Christopher moved to another school.
They were still friends but for 7th and 8th grade they rarely had a chance to connect.
This year, in 9th grade, Patrick moved over to the same school as Christopher.
They picked up where they left off.
Sharing lunch time and laughs.
I haven't been around these two really at all...
I just hear the snippets of their friendship at the dinner table.
But a few weeks ago, I had to drive both of them to a week-end adventure two hours away.
Listening to them talk in the back seat was transformational for me.
I never had the opportunity to become friends with someone with a disability when I was a kid.
I really can't imagine it.
I try and picture how I would have been...
would I have slowed down and taken the time to really see this person?
I cringe and know that the answer sure feels like no.
How did Christopher know to do this?
Are you born with a compassionate heart...
or do you build it like a drip sand castle
drip by drip
just by being submerged in a world of difference and diversity?
Like friendship, I think it is a magical alchemy...
the heart is ready and the opportunity bubbles up creating the solution needed for friendship to form.
I know this much: inclusion is part of the answer.
In the back of the car, two 15 year olds talk about driving and getting licenses.
Christopher reveals that he already has his drivers' permit,
the first step to getting a California drivers' license.
Patrick gives him the appropriate oooh's and aaah's...truthfully impressed.
He doesn't press further...but Christopher does.
He asks Patrick if he has the app on his phone to take practice written tests for driving.
When Patrick reveals that he doesn't have the app, Christopher downloads the app onto Patrick's phone and then proceeds to go through a sample test with him.
"Really, Patrick, you can totally do this. Most of the answers are just common sense. I'll help you."
made my inner Rocky run up the steps and dance with my inner Mother Teresa...
who does this??
A real friend presumes competence.
A real friend supports and encourages dreams.
A real friend shows the path.
A real friend believes in you.
A real friend takes a selfie and posts it to Instagram and watches the likes pile up...
Well, I think there can be some debate on the last bit...
but this pic is the essence of real friends.
These two have reignited their friendship...the world is better for it.
Just like the two individuals, this moment in time will never come again.
In the Japanese culture it is called Ichigo Ichie.
One opportunity. One encounter.
We must cherish the chances we're given for friendship.
Laugh and linger.
Wait and wait and wait...and reach out some more.
Friendship is too important to let slip away.
We can't explain it...
or analyze it...
but we know it's no myth and all magic.
Today I'm grateful for big hearts and kind friends,
authentic and real in their relationship.
Thank you for showing me how it's done.
Thank you for sharing a bit of the magic with me.