I arrived at our coffee date at the exact same time as Heidi. We ordered and sat down. Before I could take a bite of my bagel, she instructed me to stop. She shoved a bag in my face. She exclaimed “happy early birthday!”. What was inside the bag made me cry. It was a hand painted canvas of the quote I hold near and dear to my heart.
“With brave wings she flies”
And she added to it. She add five words that made it even more perfect for me. Like the sun she shines.
On a Monday morning in January, I sat in my car with tears streaming down my face. It was the eve of the anniversary of my aunt’s death. The sadness clung to me. In the sadness, I felt all the empty spaces that the year had left wide open. I felt the wounds. I felt every inch of my life that I had guard myself from experiencing. I missed my aunt. And in the very next breath, I missed my friend.
Last year was a tough year for Heidi and I’s friendship. It was one of the empty spaces in my life. For whatever reasons, different goals, different directions, different insecurities, our friendship fell flat. As I cried tears for my aunt, I reached out to my friend. I told her I missed her. Throughout the year we supported each other. We cheered each other on. We had coffee. But something had changed. We both became guarded. We were protecting ourselves. The moment I reached out, the moment I finally acknowledge the direction our friendship was headed, my heart healed.
We needed, I needed, that moment of vulnerability to help me remove the armor I had used to protect myself.
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~Albert Einstein
The return of her friendship has also felt like the return of me. If I had guarded myself from one of my dearest friends, I knew I had guarded my heart from the world. I knew I had lost sight of some of the very small details in life that are authentically me.
Since that day in January, I keep returning to the lesson hidden in the folds of last year and that Monday morning. Am I being authentic to who I am as a person? Am I honoring myself, the people I adore, and the life that I have created? Or am I guarding myself?
In these self reflections the word ego keeps ringing in my ears. The books I’m reading keep returning to this subject. My daily interactions keep shining light on this one word.
A genuine relationship is one that is not dominated by the ego with its image-making and self-seeking. In a genuine relationship, there is an outward flow of open, alert attention toward the other person in which there is no wanting whatsoever.~Eckhart Tolle
On Friday I will celebrate my 34th birthday. My birthday week has always been a time for me to focus on goals and life direction. It’s a time of celebration and a time of investing into my life.
As a sat across from Heidi today with the early birthday gift in my hands, my heart felt full. I knew what giving this gift meant to her. I knew she stepped outside of herself, she let down her guard, she gave up on the idea of perfect, and she created something for me that is a true reflection of who I am. This is what we were missing last year. This is what I was missing last year. I was consumed by my grief, my marathons, and my life that I got caught up in the my.
“In normal everyday usage, ‘I’ embodies the primordial error, a misperception of who you are, an illusory sense of self is what Albert Einstein, who had deep insights not only into the reality of space and time but also human nature, referred to as ‘an optical illusion of consciousness.’ That illusory self then becomes the basis for all further interpretations, or rather misinterpretations of reality, all thought processes, interactions, and relationships. Your reality becomes a reflection of the original illusion.” ~Eckhart Tolle
This year, the year I celebrate 34 years of life, I’m focusing on letting life be. I’m focusing not on myself but on my spirit. I’m focusing on what gift I can give to the world. I’m focusing on how I contribute to a world that is much larger than me.
This year, it’s going to be a great year.