The Value of Friendship– My Tribute to a Friend

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image from pixabay.com

There are places I’ll remember all my life,

though some have changed.

(All My Life, by Lennon and McCartney)

I do not believe in accidents. I do, in fact, believe in reincarnation. One of the best books I have read on the subject that has helped me understand relationships in life is The Journey of Souls, by the psychiatrist Dr. Michael Newton. Newton bases his understanding of reincarnation on transcripts from persons under hypnosis answering his questions about Souls’ experiences BETWEEN lives. These transcripts show amazing uniformity and provide a fascinating account of the spiritual nature of our relationships generally– including how we might recognize a Soul over multiple  lifetimes with whom we have a strong affinity or connection. While Newton avers that the future is not fixed or predestined in a rigid way, as there is always a Plan B if one connection in life or another does not work out so that we can still reach our goals and learn life’s lessons, still his subjects claim we often meet and form relations with some Souls over several lifetimes, and between lives we might reconnect with members of our “Soul group.”

All these places have their meanings

with lovers and friends I still can recall.

This week I want to share about aspects of a personal friendship which has helped me understand the spiritual value of Friendship altogether.  One friend in particular whom I first met when  was 17 has been an important connection ever since, despite geographical distance. This friendship has had a profound influence on my life in a way I can only call “spiritual,” and it has led me to question and arrive at my own understanding of what it means to be Soul occupying a (human) body.

I first met Donna when a high-school buddy invited me to join a fencing class in our home community. Donna was our fencing teacher, and I fell in love quickly with the art and sport of fencing, which I continued with for many years later on an intercollegiate fencing team. After the ten week class was over, I had ordered some fencing equipment which I picked up from Donna at her apartment. We began a conversation then–I might later say she became a special mentor at the time–which grew over the years into a special friendship.

Donna would read and encourage my journaling and poetry when, once a week on  Thursday afternoons, I would walk a mile and a half to her apartment to visit. She introduced me to excellent literature–from prose to philosophy and spirituality and poetry–as well as to music and art. I felt a unique sort of affinity with Donna–that when our eyes met, she was somehow mirroring me in a more experienced, dynamic, creative elder persona. I believe Donna also saw in me a diamond in the rough, with some of her own younger life aspirations and interests.

I attended college initially not far from where Donna lived, so we continued our friendship until eventually, at 25, I left for graduate school in Arizona. After that a major shift occurred. I called Donna from campus one day having felt inwardly something momentous was happening with her.

“Hello, is Donna there?”

“Just a moment.” (Her partner)

“Hello, Linda.”

The low voice at the other end of the phone I almost did not recognize; was this a friend of Donna to tell me she had passed away? But then I realized it was Donna after all.

“I am changing my name. It is odd that you called today, because

tomorrow I am having surgery.”

I put pen to paper to write down Donna’s new last name, assuming she had married her current partner.

“Donald, Linda. My new name is Donald.”

“Okay…”

Donna, to make a long story much shorter, had realized, after having successfully dealt therapeutically for several years while I had been in college with a situation of multiple personality syndrome, that her/his core gender identity was actually that of Donald and had perhaps always been such since childhood.

When I met Donald for the first time face to face a couple of summers later, my first thought was, “That’s it! That is what was always so different about Donna. This is who He truly IS.”

So, life went on. Donald has had an amazingly dynamic and successful life after ‘transitioning’ in place in his home community. For over 35 years he has given wonderful service in the arts world as well as professionally in the behavioral/ mental health field.

Of all these friends and lovers

there is noone who compares with you.

And these places lose their meaning

If I try to think of love as something new…

But this story is about our friendship through the years and about how Donna/ Donald has helped me fathom the spiritual value of Friendship.

Sometimes I have felt I could have been “Donna”; that when “Donald” stepped into little Donna’s form as a young child or baby somehow I stepped out and was born as Linda. I know that sounds incredible and probably is but a fantasy, and at the same time for me Donna has had an independent spiritual persona somewhat apart from Donald. For many years I often dreamed of visiting Donna, usually in the same, transitional sort of place, overlooking a pond with a pathway around it. We would play cards or Scrabble and continue our unending conversation. In more recent years that has shifted to where I sense Donald and Donna are indeed one and the same–merged as one, so to speak. I sometimes hope that when I leave this world, I will reconnect with my Friend and continue our spiritual friendship, eternally, as we go forward with our individual spiritual capacities.

So, a Friend. That first day as I walked to Donna’s to pick up a fencing foil, jacket, mask and a glove, I was singing “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor (click here to link to that song). And often on the many Thursdays that followed, walking to visit Donna, I continued to sing and to ponder that Song.

A Friendship connects two Souls far beyond merely physical or emotional considerations or circumstances. It uplifts and extends our very notion of personhood and can reveal the eternal, Divine nature of Soul.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

 

Life Mapping Your FRIENDSHIP Theme

 

After assembling a list of Shaping Events, situations or events that have “shaped the person you have become,” a life mapper looks at how these events group into kinds of events, or Life Themes. Then the mapper charts these events, color coded according to the Life Themes they have identified, plotting them as points on a graph to indicate the relative positive and/or negative impact each of these events has had upon their life overall. This life mapping process, presented fully equipped with tools for you in my new book, Your Life Path, reveals the PATTERNS by which your Life Themes have interwoven to create the very fabric and texture of your life experience.

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FRIENDSHIP is a very common Life Theme people identify in their Life Maps. To create a thematic mapping of just this one Theme, you can simply make a list of Shaping Events or situations you associate with Friends or Friendship in your life history. Next to each event include the age you were at when the Shaping Event occurred, and rate the event +5 to -5 in terms of its retrospective impact on “the person you have become.”  Then you can use a Life Map Chart as shown below to plot the relative impact scores of your Friendship Theme using the Age Line as a timeline for the events. Where adjacent events feel connected subjectively (e.g. a -2 event of a loss of a friend followed by a +4 event of regaining that friendship), you can draw a line on the chart connecting those event points.  The resulting chart will reveal patterns in your Friendship Theme. You could also subdivide your events by individual friendships or by types of friendships, then use color coding for the events and for the lines connecting these sub-theme events to reveal deeper subtleties in the patterning of your Friendship Theme over time.

Friendship has been bedrock in my own life story, right up there with Family and Pets. My Friendship Theme has been an uplifting factor overall, with primarily strong positive impacts throughout my life, though there have been troughs (sharp dips) due to loss either from moving away from a friend or needing to separate from a friend either temporarily or permanently due to a personality clash.

So, have at! I welcome YOUR Comments or Story!

 

Friends as a Life Theme

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Many life mappers identify Friends as a primary Life Theme that brings positive inspiration and encouragement into their lives.  Friends are for many of us as significant as Family, especially in our contemporary society where so often we need to live away from our natal family to work or go to school away from our original homes. So this month’s Better Endings topic is the Life Theme of Friends. (To discover your own primary Life Themes, purchase or find my book at a local library: Your Life Path, which provides a complete Life Path Mapping Toolkit!)

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Friends have always been core to me. The sharing and unconditional reciprocity of a true, lasting friendship anchors my sense of purpose and brings great joy. I love the constancy of a true friend. Even though we may have our ups and downs or may be nearer or more distant geographically over time, a Friend is always Here, in our hearts.

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images are from pixabay.com

To begin this month’s set of posts about Friends, I turn to Khalil Gibran, whose essay on Friendship I remember since I first read it forty-five or so years ago.  I especially remember from Gibran’s essay how important it is to share the positive as well as your fears or frustrations with your Friend.

Celebrate the joy of your deep connection with your Friend.  This reminds me also of Rumi’s spiritual teacher and guide whom he refers to as The Friend, Shams-I- Tabriz. For a Friend is a Teacher of love and respect, one with whom we share unconditional, even an Eternal spiritual connection.

So for your reading pleasure, here below is Gibran on Friendship:

On Friendship
 Kahlil Gibran

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.