I have a very precious friend. I’ve known her since I moved here to New York, and we’ve known each other through a lot of good and bad times. She lives on the other side of the park from me and I don’t see her nearly as often as I’d like, but we always know that we love each other, and when we see each other it’s like no time has passed. You know, that kind of friend.
One of the many things that is true of her is that she’s extraordinarily charismatic, and people are drawn to her. People love her easily, because she is so lovable. She’s smart, she’s so funny, she’s articulate, she has opinions (but she’s not rude about them), she’s a wonderful conversationalist. And her big gift to me is that she always makes me feel seen. I feel seen by her, recognized, understood. In fact, she’s the only person in NYC who makes me feel that way. She says generous things to and about me, but that’s not why I feel seen. (Gee, that would be mighty arrogant and grandiose of me — she’s so great because she sees how wonderful I am!) No, it’s not that, it’s not the valence of what she says about me, but it is often the detail. She pays close, close attention and when she says something, the detail of it makes you know that she has seen you.
I’m not sure, but I think this is part of her essence, her ability to see. I think this is why people aren’t just drawn to her, but stay eagerly in her orbit — and that’s the case, people stick with her so happily. Something terrible happened to her a few years ago and so many people wanted to see her in the aftermath that someone had to create a log, a sign-in sheet, so people could schedule a visit. I’ve never known anyone with so many friends — and not facebook “friends,” either. Real flesh and bone friends, friends who light up when she enters the room. As I do.
We were talking about the awful complexity of living. How we do things, sometimes, that we don’t feel great about, we make choices we’d prefer not to make, we manage so many things simultaneously and sometimes end up in a situation that leaves us feeling trapped. All those kinds of things, real life things, things that aren’t on the radar of impossibly perfect 20-year-olds, who are ALWAYS going to do this and NEVER do that. But life goes on, troubles accumulate, backs get pushed against walls, the array of choices dwindles and we have to pick from a crappy assortment (kind of like our political candidates, which is the least bad?). And a further challenge is to try to have some self-compassion in the mix. We agreed that it gets very dicey there, the whole self-compassion deal, but I think I’m starting to understand it a little bit, so I’ll think more and then talk about that later.
So anyway, there we are. Real women, with real histories of our own, encountering the real world and surprising ourselves now and then, letting ourselves down on occasion, and always doing the best we can, even if it turns out to be less than we wished. And in the midst of that, we are essentially ourselves — her essence is light, and the ability to really see people (and make them feel that), and she connects people together, somehow, both to her, and to each other. I’m less clear about my essence, about what essentially equals me.
I come away feeling — as always, with her — seen, heard, listened to (with curiosity and interest), loved, and accepted. And she shares herself with me, which is often a struggle for us as we both are so busy saying “But how about YOU?! What’s going on with YOU!” That cracks me up, it’s so far afield from my usual NY experiences.
Yesterday’s gray skies and rain seem to have blown away and the sky is clear blue, and clean. I hope it’s equally beautiful where you are, and I hope you have someone in your life like my friend. If you lived here, she’d draw you to her, I guarantee. 🙂 Happy Wednesday, y’all.