The holiday season kind of snuck up on me this year. I completely forgot about Thanksgiving. One of my dear friend’s birthday is November 24, so his birthday eclipsed that. To add to the confusion, for my circle here in Belgium the holidays really start on December 6, with the festival of Saint Nicolas. Without going into great detail, in the State, Saint Nicholas and Santa Clause are the same person associated with the same day, December 25. Not to so here. So it wasn’t until when my Facebook friends and family started sending Thanksgiving wishes that I realized that the holidays were upon us. That’s said, I don’t know why but immense waves of gratitude had already started to wash over me in the days that led up to Thanksgiving. Maybe I was more attuned that I realized? Anyway, those feeling rose from my thoughts about my friends and family. Today these feelings move me to my core.
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
I’ll admit that those feelings are mixed up with a sort of nostalgia. Once upon a time, me and most of my friends and family were mainly in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now they are scattered across the globe— from California, Washington State, Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts and Louisiana; not to mention my new friends who are across Europe from here in Belgium, to Netherlands, to Germany and of course France. As I think about them I am humbled and feel a bit spoiled. I see for myself how as Euripides, one of the three great classical Greek dramatists writes, “friends show their love in times of trouble [and distance], not in happiness [and ease].” In “Finding Your Tribe” I write about the physical benefits of being a part of a like-minded group of people and these people congregate. A quick Google search will provide you with study after study that support that claim. But today I’m not writing about heady stuff like that. Today I’m talking about the warm, like-affirming feelings that touch the soul, which a loving, caring, supportive community gives.
Today I am grateful for the special friends and amazingly family I have. They are smart, charming, funny and adventurous. Sometimes they are straight up with no chaser. Still, as my Aunt Carylon says they’ve got my back. Whether they know it or not, they are my rock. They are the people that I want to be like. And although I don’t always see it in me, if birds of a feather really do flock together, then I must be like them. Plus they give my life meaning because their being there makes me a part of something bigger than me and I love them for all that they bring. And that is encouraging because no matter how successful, beautiful or whatever our individual measure of success is, I don’t know anyone, who doesn’t suffer from some kind of self-doubt. But knowing they are there, I am encouraged.
“Friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when.”
Knowing that people like them are in the world gives me courage to go out and meet more people like them. And I’m going to purposely continue to seek them out by doing more things, going to more places and participating in more activities that I’m already interested in or as least compliment what I’m already interested in. I’ve recently found a meditation studio near our new apartment. While I have already established my own meditation practice there’s something nice about meditating with others. With this studio so near the house, I have no excuse to not to go and check it out, so I’m going. I also found a Tai Chi school near the new apartment. I’ve taken the intro course and I already love it. And guess what? The people were warm and inviting, just as I suspected that they would be. While I haven’t gotten to know anyone just yet, who knows where a quick chat will lead. Maybe I’ll make a friend, maybe I’ll just learn a few things, or maybe something I haven’t yet thought of. I’m looking forward to seeing how this unfolds.
And as I write this, I’m clarifying my dream and in a way I’m pre-paving my New Years Resolutions. Pre-paving is where you see and feel things going your way before you start something new and in a way set the tone ahead of time. I’m often in my head, so this could be a just some sort of mental exercise, but feeling the love of my friends and family as strongly as I do right now, I feel the imprint of those feelings on my dream too. I already know what solid, uplifting connection feel like, so I’ll know when the right connections are made by how they make me feel. It will feel like how I felt when my girl friend made me burst out in laughter the other day. Or the feeling will touch me like when another girlfriend sent me a link sharing a few things I can do to make my knee feel better. The feeling might even make me a little teary like when out of the blue my aunt told me don’t worry because she’s got my back. You see, all those feeling are infused in my dream too now.
If I pan even further out from my dreaming to real, immediate life, the outcome of these new meetings are less important that getting out there and seeing what there is to see and learning what there is learn, because in just getting out there I’ll embody the characteristic, attitudes and aspirations of the kind of person I want to be. With each step I learn something new and that learning will inform my next decision. Life is built one decision at a time. So coming full circle, this holiday season, I’ll start from a moment in which I can, as Mark Sisson writes, “Enjoy the moment—the company, the conversation, the chance to connect and tell stories new and old,” all while relishing in the gathering, the gratitude, the giving as I continue to purposefully be even more who I am.