When it comes to friends, I have many and I have a very few.
The many include the regular’s who frequent my place of work and stop by weekly for a chat and to see what’s new and it also includes my friends on social media who I chat with and belong to special interest groups with.
The few are the folks who I share my personal time with. They know where and how I live. They know my family. They know my history. Some are my family but I choose them as friends despite that anyway.
Yesterday at work, I had an in-depth conversation with one of my work friends that hit a wisdom nerve. We were talking about art and creativity and I was gushing about a recent book I just read called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
You may as well know right now, I will be gushing about this book in posts for the next while. It is my new creativity bible and if you are a creative soul I encourage you to read it.
Anyway, my friend is a college trained artist, musician and generally thoughtful fellow and we were discussing the merits of performance art among other things. My perception was that he was trying to differentiate the definition of art versus creativity to me while poo pooing my enthusiasm for my new creative bible.
When he finished debating his opinion of what art is, I said to him, “every point that you just made, Elizabeth Gilbert makes in her book.”
My friend looked surprised and then said that perhaps I was a more educated and thoughtful person than he realized.
Now before you think that his retort was arrogant, I did not take it that way. Instead I laughed in delight. He had a pre-conceived impression of me as a nice friendly shop keeper and probably never gave thought to anything deeper about me than that.
We all have friends, acquaintances really, who know us within certain contexts. This friend you chat about sports with and that friend you chat about gardening with and that is how they know you and you know them. But no one is one dimensional. There are many layers to each of us.
Sometimes it is perfectly fine to only show snippets of your personality. I don’t know if I would want every person I meet knowing every aspect of my life; my trails and tribulations. In fact I personally prefer to show only some facets of my personality in public. Dealing with the public regularly as I do, it is necessary to protect my more vulnerable qualities.
So when my friend made his comment I got to thinking about just what the majority of my friends think they know about me and then again what do I think I know about them.
Here’s something for you to ponder. How well do you really know me, or any of your other friends for that matter?
I could get all preachy and spout on about how society needs to be more compassionate to the human condition and to seek to understand other cultures and to love thy neighbor, yada yada. Instead I ask you to only consider your circle of friends. How is it that you know these people and under what circumstances are they in your life. Do you have un-intentional blinders towards the other layers of their personality or their life experiences? How might that effect your opinions of them?
All humans seek to be seen and understood. That is our universal drive. In this modern superficial world of “likes” and “emoji’s” we are becoming a society of emotional surface skimmers. Rarely diving deep into friendships by investing in others with deep relationships.
Consider that the next time you strike up a conversation with an acquaintance. How might both of your lives be enriched by a more thought provoking dialogue. How might your soul be nurtured by the emotional and intellectual connection and how would your life be enhanced to be really seen and understood by another.