To be a friend is to share a connection, to feel that what we are living and experiencing is validated in the reflection of another being in our presence. To be available for friendship is to be open to anyone or anything other than our self. We all get tired of our own company, and to be somewhere new or with someone else is to be exposed to a breath of fresh air, a renewal of perspective. It is also hard to laugh and remark on the funny or beautiful moments we experience if there is no one with whom one can share those moments. Yet it is important to consider that the Universe itself is alive, ready and willing to interact with us and be our friend at every moment. Matter is full of intelligence, spirit, humor, and life. We need to consider relationship with all of existence, and not just with other human beings.
What makes a person a good friend? What does it mean to be friendly? Why do people want to be around some people more than others? Can we exude an attitude of solitude or one of friendliness and warmth? What type of awareness do we need in order to attract positive people into our lives? As I reflect on these questions, the only answers I can come up with are to work on myself by developing self-acceptance, a non-judgmental attitude toward self and others, a pleasant manner, and an open face and demeanor.
I work a customer service job, which means I have to be nice and helpful to people throughout the work day. This means being mindful, present, patient, and selfless. I enjoy working with people, because it feels good to let go of myself and consider other people’s needs, desires, feelings, thoughts, and energy. Customer service is a good exercise, because paying attention is hard to do all of these things in a world full of distractions. One of my distractions is writing this blog, because I don’t have much time to write. When we are on the circulation desk at the library, the manager allows us to surf the web or do other personal work when there are no patrons, holds to check in or to shelve…so during these brief, chopped moments, I try to gather my thoughts. Outside of work, I take care of my son, our dog, our guinea pigs, our house and yard. As I think about friendship and relationship, I feel that these precious aspects of existance are in fact an extension of ourselves in the world.
For example, even if hypothetically I don’t have a physical human friend in the world, I am still being a friend to myself and to the world when I am expressing compassion for myself, my garden, the people with whom I interact at the grocery store, at the workplace. Sometimes a feeling of loneliness can stem from feeling not worthy enough. It seems like our consumer society reinforces those feelings by trying to constantly sell us merchandise that will somehow cure those ills by making us more perfect and therefore more loveable. This constant solicitation can erode our self-love by causing us to feel as if we are not quite enough just as we are. An attitude of friendship counteracts that hurtful mentality of poverty by bringing abundance into the equation of self and our relationship to the world.
Sometimes my heart hurts, and I feel like a pariah. The only way I can counter-act that feeling is by reminding myself that I am full of love. I can only offer that, and it is preferable to feel love than pain. It is an exercise that I work on, to scrape away the crusty skin that covers over my childhood wounds and see below the damaged flesh the pure throbbing heart of the center of my being – untarnished and pure.
It is hard to not feel judged when people do not respond to your being, but in truth, there are thousands of reasons why other people do not notice us. They are busy, perhaps busy so they don’t feel their own pain, perhaps busy because they have sufficiently full and fulfilling lives. When alone, do not doubt yourself and your value. You are important, even if no one seems to notice you. Your talents and contributions to the world are needed. Comfort yourself with an attitude of friendship. Be gentle to your flowering plants, to your pets, to yourself. Nourish yourself with loving words, and open your face to the world by being kind to your own being. The love that is inside of you deserves to come out.
The world needs you, as it is a living being, and we are all as cells in this living organism. Do not forget this. Comparing yourself unfavorably to others does only a disservice to yourself and to the world. Slow down, and look around you. The leaves on the trees are smiling at you as they twinkle and shuffle on their branches. Motes of dust dance around you in the sunlight, celebrating their joy of being near you. While cars roar by indifferent, raindrops roll down your cheeks like tears, rinsing away your sorrows. Release your grief, for below and within lies a precious diamond, a lantern that lights your path. Inside of you is a tiny house, cozy, equipped with a perfect window seat for you to read for as long as you want without interruptions. The cottage is painted in soft turquoise, reds, creams – rich and gentle tones. This is your home – a place you create for yourself, a shelter for all that is unique to you in the world. To cultivate an attitude of friendship is to cherish your truest and deepest self. It will become apparent to others as your light blossoms from the depths of your being, through your skin, to your manner of being and speaking to and with the world.