(Read this AFTER reading Pare Down)
Today I had a strong urge to call my friend Geoff whom I had not heard from in over a year. Ours is an unlikely friendship spanning nearly 10 years – a ZZ Top looking tattooed ex-drinking ex-drugging biker and a tall willowy Jamaican nurse. I was an artist when I met him – Rock Artist, I called myself. I needed some pointers, knowledge about sandblasting – knowledge he shared willingly, openly, without the thought of competition. We even worked on a few large projects together using his mobile sandblasting equipment and tractor. It is an easy friendship, a bright sacred thread in my life’s tapestry. Sometimes we would not hear from each other for months, years, and then a quick phone conversation would be enough to catch up – to reconnect.
“Do you have a man in your life yet or are you still waiting for me?”
That question, the perpetual dance in our friendship, made me laugh out loud.
“Of course I am still waiting for you,” I answered, giggling.
“Hey, I just wanted to make sure.”
Then without a drawing a breath, he said “It is good to hear your laughter. I’ve missed you.”
My eyes filled with tears – tears of love, of joy, and of the memories over the years of our improbable friendship. And I, the one who usually misses no one, replied “I miss you too,” and knew in my heart that it was true.
He talked about his life, his travels, his need to use a blanket at night where he was. He talked about missing the Valley. There, there was too much green, he said, he missed the shades of browns. We talked about my life – looking for a home. I described a house to him, a house I was “in like” with. I talked about the courtyard, the backyard, my mind transported as I walked through it again. I talked about its smallness. He thinks all one needs is a bedroom and a fridge but we both agreed that really one needs a kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom.
I did not tell him I was trying to decide between houses. I did not tell him I had asked for unmistakable guidance. But as our conversation mellowed he unknowingly dropped a seed of wisdom. After saying that the Canadians were buying up homes “right and left” in the Valley, and that it took him a while to sell a rental he had as it was only 1200+ square feet, he said:
“But I don’t care about “the market”. I don’t follow trends or get into the stories. I live my life for me, doing what I want, what feels good for me. If I can come home at the end of the day and smile when I walk through my door, then that makes me happy. That is what it is all about. That is enough.”
The seed he dropped caught in my throat, constricting it and bringing tears to my eyes. I swallowed and it fell into my heart.
“That is the most profound wisdom I have heard all day,” I said, my voice catching.
“I’m probably the only person you’ve spoken to all day,” he sounded pleased, flattered, surprised.
“Yes you are.”
We laughed and inside me the seed grew into a tree. It would have taken a while to explain to him why his words were so appropriate and, since he could not see the tears that had welled up on the brink of spilling over, I saved the explanation for another time.
My tears fell for a while after we hung up. They flowed freely – watering Wisdom’s tree.