Friends(hip) ~ Early Morning Thoughts

As I continued to think about friends and friendships today, I was struck again by the truth of the quote:

True friendship is at once selfish and selfless. And both sides are necessary. Both sides are good.

Otherwise, it becomes something that is one-sided and (as I have learned) very unhealthy. And at times, that has been a problem for me. I have had a tendency (that I still have to battle with) to simply become a conduit for the other person. It’s been a sense of giving them more importance than myself. I would placing their problems, joys, hopes, dreams above my own. I’ll be posting as to how I realized what was going on, and what I’ve had to do to make changes. Tonight, I wanted to stroll through some ideas that have meant a lot to me about friendship and what it means.

The Gift Of Friends

There are days when
bubbling from us comes
the innocent child within,
who giggles at the little things
and wears a silly grin.

There are days when
melancholy comes to
visit for a while;
the mind feels tired, the body weak;
we have no strength to smile.

There are days when
joy abundant
grabs a hold of you and me;
wraps us up in all it’s splendor,
lifts us up and sets us free.

There are days when
sorrow wraps us
in its cloak of grief and fear,
’till our hearts ache to the breaking,
’till our eyes can’t shed a tear.

There are days when
love bestows us
with its wonderment and light;
with its beauty and its mystery,
its power and its might.

And there are days when
life rewards us
and seems to make amends
by granting us a marvelous gift,
the precious gift of Friends.
–Karin Schaefer

The next poem/statements really struck a chord with me the first time I read it. As a series of simple statements – each one if packed with power and truth. I also discovered that if I didn’t agree with something he wrote, if I left it alone – I discovered he was generally right all along…

I am not your friend if. . .
you have to think a long time before you speak to me!

i am not your friend if. . .
my presence ever makes you feel uncomfortable!

i am not your friend if. . .
you have to continually say sorry for everything you don’t do!

i am not your friend if. . .
you hesitate to ask me for favors!

i am not your friend if. . .
you think i would not be curious to know your new philosophy of life!

i am not your friend if. . .
you go by what i say and do not understand what i don’t say!

i am not your friend if. . .
you think that listening to your dreams would put me to sleep!

i am not your friend if. . .
you think that seeing you in pain, would not bring a tear to me!

i am not your friend if. . .
you don’t realize how your smile brightens up my day!

i am not your friend if. . .
you would rather keep quiet when you really wanna to talk!

i am not your friend if. . .
you hesitate to ask me to stay back when you think we should be together!
–attributed to a Serbian freedom fighter

And for the final thought in this post, a very short poem that absolutely made a difference in MY outlook the first time I read it. But then – being a terminal romantic (we’re the ones that pat the sandwich after we make it – remember?) it would speak to me in many different levels.

Lost Treasures

They told me

that to truly find something,
you must first lose it.

So I lost myself,
and what I found was

They were right.
–H. Lamb

–more tomorrow

Early Morning Thoughts ~ Amore (part 2)

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and being the terminal romantic that I am, (the symptom of terminal romanticism: we pat the sandwiches after we make them) I’ve been thinking about love. A number of years ago Art Linkletter had a section of his TV program called “Kids Say The Darndest Things.” Of course, the joy of that program was his ability to get children to admit to things their parents were usually horrified to hear. One little girl I remember announced her Mother’s pregnancy on national television – something her Mother had not told ANYONE, including the Father!

However, children have insights that we adults (who have lost our childlike enthusiasm for life) tend to miss.

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, “What does love mean?”
The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined.

What do you think?

“When my grandmother got arthritis,
she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore.
So my grandfather does it for her all the time,
even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”
–Rebecca- age 8

“When someone loves you, the way
they say your name is different.
You just know that your name is
safe in their mouth.”
–Billy – age 4

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume
and a boy puts on shaving cologne
and they go out and smell each other.”
–Karl – age 5

“Love is when you go out to eat
and give somebody most of your
French fries without making them
give you any of theirs.”
–Chrissy – age 6

“Love is what makes you smile
when you’re tired.”
–Terri – age 4

“Love is when my mommy makes
coffee for my daddy and she takes
a sip before giving it to him, to
make sure the taste is OK.”
–Danny – age 7

“Love is when you kiss all the time.
Then when you get tired of kissing,
you still want to be together and
you talk more.
My Mommy and Daddy are like that.
They look gross when they kiss”
–Emily – age 8

“Love is what’s in the room
with you
at Christmas
if you stop opening
presents and listen.”
–Bobby – age 7 (Wow!)

“If you want to learn to love better,
you should start with a friend
who you hate,”
–Nikka – age 6
(we need a few million more
Nikka’s on this planet)

“Love is when you tell a guy you
like his shirt,
then he wears it everyday.”
–Noelle – age 7

“Love is like a little old woman and
a little old man who are still friends
even after they know each other so well.”
–Tommy – age 6

“During my piano recital, I was on
a stage and I was scared. I looked
at all the people watching me and
saw my daddy waving and smiling.
He was the only one doing that.
I wasn’t scared anymore.”
–Cindy – age 8

“My mommy loves me more
than anybody .
You don’t see anyone else kissing
me to sleep at night.”
–Clare – age 6

“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy
the best piece of chicken.”
–Elaine-age 5

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy
smelly and sweaty and still says
he is handsomer than Brad Pitt.”
–Chris – age 7

“Love is when your puppy licks
your face even after you left him
alone all day.”
–Mary Ann – age 4

“When you love somebody, your
eyelashes go up and down and
little stars come out of you.”
(what an image)
–Karen – age 7

“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’
unless you mean it.
But if you mean it, you should say it a lot.
People forget.”
–Jessica – age 8

And the final one —
Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia
supposedly talked about a contest
he was asked to judge –
The purpose of the contest was to
find the most caring child.

The winner was a four year old child
whose next door neighbor was
an elderly gentleman who had
recently lost his wife.

Upon seeing the man cry, the little
boy went into the old gentleman’s yard,
climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.
When his Mother asked what he had
said to the neighbor, the little boy said,
“Nothing, I just helped him cry”

more on amore later

Early Morning Thoughts ~ Poison to Medicine

Remember you’ve got a choice.
When you feel you can’t handle something,
you can either choose to feel miserable and helpless,
or maybe put your life in someone else’s hands to sort out – if they can be bothered.
Or you can decide to take charge ,
take full responsibility for whatever is happening,
even if none of it seems to be your fault,
and decide to turn poison into medicine.

– Geoff from the book, “The Buddha, Geoff and Me”
The spiritual journey does not consist in arriving at a new destination
where a person gains what he did not have
or becomes what he is not.
It consists in the dissipation of one’s own ignorance concerning one’s self and life
and the gradual growth of that understanding which begins the spiritual awakening.
The finding of God is a coming to one’s self
– Aldous Huxley

Sometimes the randomness of thoughts link together and drive the consciousness into places and patterns I have no intention of letting it go. I had a delightful phone call from a dear friend this morning, and several of the topics that we/he gently touched on took hold and roiled around all day. This was also brought to fruition by a chat at the bus stop with someone I know is having a very tough time – with no support system (inner or without) to help.
While this dealing with inner issues certainly is not a bad thing – it did manage to consume time, energy and spirit. As I approached the evening time, I realized I was fatigued. A mental kind of fatigue that at first bothered me – but then I realized it was a fatigue from actually having accomplished some mental/spiritual things.

So, that led to the consideration that over these nights of ideas is the concept of truth, self and love . Is what happened preventing me from being my true self, the self I am intended to be. Was the progression in this life going to change me in such a way that I will not be the me I know now and that the me I know now will not be the me that other people know.

That’s when I once again took a long hard look at a relationship that almost destroyed me. This time on paper – and to place it in public.

When I first met ZZ, he was – or seemed to be – a deep seeker. He also was delightful, charming, funny and in many was in need of support. We became friends. As the time went on I thought the friendship was deepening into a deep friendship. He was just getting over a very deep and prolonged long term relationship and looking, or so I thought, for support. I found out later that his relationship had been predicated on a lie – an absolute lie he created. He wanted me to just be a good deep friend. And I was willing to do/be just that. I didn’t know about the previous relationship being built on a lie, and when he maneuvered me into being something I was not – and this is hard to admit – I went along with it.

When I made that conscious decision, I set myself of a path of absolute destruction. I had allowed the lie to come in, to begin to grow and to make itself quite at home. For a number of years, this lie was as a stage director consuming more and more time for the stage. As I wrote the other night on fences and boundaries – I also believed that the friendship could possibly deepen even further – even though I was so far off ZZ’s radar I wasn’t even a blip on the screen. I began to tear down boundaries and fences and to lay myself open. As I also said the other night, in a relationship this is something that has to be done – but in the wrong situation can be very dangerous.

Now, understand this relationship between ZZ and I was never physical. But it took me quite some time to realize/admit that it was a relationship non-the-less. But there were several things wrong on my part – 1) Who/what I was to him was based on a lie of his choosing and my own accommodation of that lie, 2) I was trying to be what I was not and 3) I was giving up myself piece by piece – belief by belief. I also 4) was hiding my own lies about feelings, beliefs, dreams and hopes. And, of course, when that happens, the well can and will run dry at some point.

Mine ran so dry that I ended up by giving up on everything including life. However, from that lower depths came a wondrous journey … that has me where I am today. To quote what I posted at the top: The spiritual journey does not consist in arriving at a new destination where a person gains what he did not have or becomes what he is not.

Chapter two of the story or as a famous radio commentator/author might say: Tomorrow the rest of the story!

Tulip from Triumph Tulip by Steven N.Meyers (

Early Morning thoughts ~ Truth or ? (Part 3)

Continuing with the thoughts about truth, this comment came to mind:

The word “true” has many meanings.
People who feel that science and literature or science and religion are in necessary conflict do so because they habitually think in opposites of black and white, true and false, good and evil.
To such people, if science is “true,” then literature or religion is nonsense; if literature or religion is “true,” science is merely “pretentious ignorance.”
What should be understood when people tell us that certain statements are “scientifically true” is that they are useful and verifiable formulations, suitable for the purposes of organized cooperative workmanship.
What should be understood when people tell us that the plays of Shakespeare or the poems of Milton or Dante are “eternally true” is that they produce in us attitudes toward our fellow men, an understanding of ourselves, or feelings of deep moral obligation that are valuable to humanity under any conceivable circumstances.
S.I. Hayakawa Language in Thought and Action (San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1990)

Without much difficulty we can get trapped into a situation where everything is treated as black or white, good or evil, etc.

Hayakawa uses a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes:

You know that if you had a bent tube, one arm of which was of the size of a pipestem, and the other big enough to hold the ocean, water would stand at the same height in one as in the other. Controversy equalizes fools and wise men in the same way – and the fools know it.

This is why it is often frustrating to try and have a discussion with people who hold a my-way-only-valued philosophy (____________ is no good, ____________ is all bad” “__________ is wrong in all circumstances” “_________ are evil”), because to such people there are no shades of gray.

And you want to discuss arguments against their philosophy/truth but get sucked into defending their opposite (democracy or whatever), just to prove the point.

Looking back at the two statement I highlighted and appearing to take the words from their contexts:

they are useful and verifiable formulations, suitable for the purposes of organized cooperative workmanship. . . they produce in us attitudes toward our fellow men, an understanding of ourselves, or feelings of deep moral obligation that are valuable to humanity under any conceivable circumstances
It becomes apparent that if core moral truth were operating in the situation, there could/would be a discussion rather than a rant/argument with no reasonable outcome.

In this kind of situation, I’m not required to give up anything – rather, I listen, evaluate and perhaps comment (perhaps?!). But nothing is standing in the way of working together. This allows understanding, growth and hope. It also allows us to keep the boundaries /fences of ourselves intact.

For example, corporate worship is important to me. It isn’t to everyone, and that is alright. I began attending worship with a group of people whose core beliefs I discovered were very different from mine. So different from mine, that I began to realize that their attitude toward others, their feelings of obligation and their sense of cooperation were only accessible through those beliefs (my-way-only-philosophy). It began to trouble me, as there was no way to discuss the differences without ending up in an argument and any interaction would be simply shut down. I then gently and kindly separated myself and went in another direction. Why didn’t I stay? Because open truth was not acceptable there, and by linking myself with that philosophy I was, in a sense, lending myself as a proponent of it. Of course, there were those who wanted to know the why and wherefore. My response was a simple “I can respect, and acknowledge your stand, but I can not accept it.” And the “coat-piece” ideal simply wasn’t going to happen. (more on this tomorrow)

Bias And Reality ~

Over 170 buses in Richmond, Virginia USA have one of three signs with Arabic writing promoting silly sayings like, “Paper, Scissors, Rock,” “Paper or Plastic and the “I’m a little tea pot” rhyme. The bus company has been getting calls from riders wanting to know what the signs mean.

Sometimes when people see or hear a language they do not understand it scares them. Muslims stare fear and mistrust in the face almost daily. These bus signs are saying that even though we fear what we don’t understand we are able to overcome that fear by learning about others. We can rethink bias, but it starts with learning about our neighbours.

This campaign is from Rethink Bias, a program of the Virginia Interfaith Center. It’s meant to challenge people’s biases and expectations.

Early Morning Thoughts ~ What a wonder –

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the infinite, so long are you young.
Samuel Ullman

For several years I was involved in a roommate situation that basically became a relationship. Not a physical one, but one that became to involve everything else but that. It was, as most relationships are, one that involved my tearing down boundaries, letting my fences wear out and taking defences completely away. I didn’t want to realize just how damaging that can be in the wrong hands and the wrong situation. I literally began to lose myself in what was and wasn’t going on. This is not to label, blame or cast negatives. It’s just a simple (ok – not so simple) statement of fact. I had forgotten the powerful words from the book The Prophet:

And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow

This led me down a path where who I thought I was began to shift, and how I thought about myself began to slide away. It ended, after almost nine years, with my loss of childlike enthusiasm and the wonder of what was to happen next. It also goaded me back into finding what I had lost – what I had given up during this time. What all occurred over several weeks is for another day, but the road that became apparent to me is one that I am determined to keep walking and even sometimes running!

When I lost the childlike wonder and enthusiasm I also lost the ability to be myself, and to give to those around me. If I am running my own tank on “empty.” there is no way I will be able to help others. No way I can see what needs to be done and help to do it.

The other day I started this theme with some wonderful “children’s” poems and as you read my posts over the last several days, hopefully you have looked – searched – and realized some truths for yourself as well.

“Who Has Seen the Wind” by Christina Giorgina Rossetti:

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

And I WANT that wind of growth, power and love to blow on me; and for me to feel it, rejoice in it and welcome what it brings!!

Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains,
at the huge waves of the sea,
at the long courses of the rivers,
at the vast compass of the ocean,
at the circular motions of the stars,
and they pass by themselves without wondering.
St. Augustine

picture of 2 piece sculpture “who has seen the wind” by Ruri