Your body slowly pulls out of its drowsy state of slumber as you snuggle peacefully in the arms of dreaminess. You blink your eyes slowly awake, relishing in the promise of another day, a new beginning, a refreshed body, a renewed spirit. Your fuzzy mind starts swimming up to the surface past the memories of last night’s dreams. Your mind unwillingly strokes upward towards the present. And then in a flash it hits you. You remember that something is “off”, something is wrong. It shatters your bliss. It breaks your reverie. It reeks havoc with your peace of mind. You break furiously through the surface of a new day, disturbed and worried.
I hate when that happens. It’s a buzz kill to your day. A headache that can’t be relieved. A thought that gets stuck on replay. A splinter that hurts. Over and over we relive the details. We obsess. We grovel. We ask fate or God to intervene. We retreat inward, unable to embrace the sweet joy of “today”.
If we were non-caring, non-compassionate people, we could probably pull the “I don’t care” attitude. We could play the game. But, for the most part, most of us aren’t – we just aren’t. We care and are deeply passionate about other people and the problems that they go through.
Most of us pay attention to whether someone is upset. Or sad. Or unhappy. Or going through something that causes sleepless nights and restless days. We wish nothing but happiness on our family and friends – our tribe. We want the world at peace with each other and the universe. But we let it affect us. We let it creep into our minds and monopolize our time and positive spirit. We let their “stuff” become our splinter. We care….
And the sad reality is that this breach of normalcy can happen in a blink of an eye, catching us totally unaware and unprepared for our feelings of confusion and helplessness. The morning news holds tragedy that breaks us into pieces. Violence explodes on our streets. In our towns. A friend loses someone they love. An accident teeters too close to the fragility of life. A marriage threatens divorce – lost hope. A message sounds harsh. A friendship gets damaged. It all hurts.
It works on our mind by penetrating our daily coat of peaceful content and becomes a splinter in our soul. It festers. Their problems become ours. We can’t help it. It’s who we are. It’s our tribe. Pretty soon we find that we are consumed with thoughts of what we can do to fix it for them. Because let’s face it, we are all “fixers” and it is in our make-up to put bandaids on, kiss scraped knees, and make the hurt go away.
But, all too often, we can’t. We can look at the problem, whosever it is, and know that sometimes we just can’t fix it. And that, dear friends, is what preys on our mind, tortures our soul, and interrupts our bliss. It breaks our heart.
I was recently able to spend time with several of my hometown friends, part of my Illinois tribe, that I grew up with. Long time, sweet friends that helped create my meaningful early years, when life was uncomplicated and days were filled with carefree simplicity. Our get-together was fun. It was memorable. It was delightfully joyful to gather around a table and reminisce, sharing life stories, past and present, along with a few bottles of wine to celebrate our reunion.
The reality of friendship is that our lives are truly all different. We’ve lived in different cities. Had different interests. We have been different places, done different things. We’ve had different professions. Different successes or failures. With marriage. Careers. Life. We’ve had different sorrows and joys.
But the “take away” from this, for me, was the sweet realization that we all are the same inside. There is no division that might have divided us earlier in our lives. At this point, at this stage in our life, as we have grown into our true selves, we no longer need to be anything other than who we are. There is no urge to prove our successes, to brag, or compare. We are comfortable in our own skin, with being who we are today, with growing older. We appreciate each other in ways that soothe our spirit. Our souls become peaceful with the affirmation of kindred familiarity. Our Tribe.
But, most important, in this realization, is that our worries are the same. We are all faced with the fear of a country in turmoil. Violence. War. We are faced with concerns for our children and their children’s futures. We are all servants of our caring hearts. Sleepless nights. Interrupted bliss. Splinters we need to work out.
So we stick together, as family and friends. We gather ourselves around our table of fellowship and we let our souls grieve together for the loss of predictability and innocence. We soothe each other with our positive thoughts and we resolve that all will be ok.
Because we have each other, we wrap our arms of friendship around our worries and hug them tighter, so that they bleed into each other. They become “ours”, not “theirs”. Our tribe sticks together. We comfort. We console. We dry our tears and turn them into laughter. We celebrate births. We grieve loss. We pick up the pieces of our shattered dreams and we glue them back together with the bond of tribal love. We work at our splinters and together we pull them out. We ease our troubled world by being together, literally and spiritually.
Family and friends are our greatest blessings in this life. Our greatest gifts. In this world and in our lifetime, it may be the only certainty we have.
Cherish your tribe. Celebrate it. Love and be loved. It’s what truly matters.