Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Good Friends

Even though I'm generally hermit-like, I have a lot of friends.  Not only do I have a lot of friends, but my friends are amazing people. I check facebook daily, and it is inspiring for me to see the art being made, poetry being written, beer being brewed, gardens flourishing, witticisms exchanged, smart political commentary, and most of all, the adventures being had.  Sometimes I wonder, "How did I collect so many fantastic people?"

The other day, an acquaintance and colleague, Laurel True, posted a simple line: I love my life.

Laurel spends much of her time in Haiti, creating community through mosaic, and fundraising to bring much-needed supplies to this poverty-stricken island.  She has been in Haiti during hurricane Isaac, which hit hard.  Her statement summed up the thing so many of my friends have in common, which is an ability to roll with adversity and to turn it into something powerful.

My friends are doing things like parenting children with autism, going back to college, juggling work with art and family, lacking health insurance, going through divorce, and suffering serious health problems, just like everyone else.  And they get frustrated and angry.  The thing that impresses me is that each of them comes out the other side, every time, better than before.  My recently divorced women friends, now rendered single moms, are taking advantage of their new freedom by learning extreme sports and going on beautiful hikes and blossoming, and their kids are watching (and participating.)  One of my friends is suffering a debilitating and mysterious disease that seems to shut her body down.  Sometimes, she can't use her hands.  When I see her, she has a cane, and has needed a wheelchair.  She can't hold a job right now.  Instead, she is just being downright fabulous - not that she wasn't before.  She was.  But, in the face of this enigmatic illness, she sings in a band and makes art and keeps a blog and has the best sense of humor of anyone I know.

Three of my friends have lost their children.  I can't imagine it.  How does a person go through such a loss and still find beauty in the world?  But these three all radiate goodwill and strength and a sense that life is precious.  They live with their loss every day, they keep smiling, and they give the best hugs.

One of my friends was in a coma for 5 weeks due to a massive stroke suffered during an operation.  He has mostly recovered and is writing a novel based on intense lucid dreams he had while unconscious.  He could feel sorry for himself, but he's utterly grateful for his second chance, and his appreciation for life, family and friends is contagious.

Most of my friends have less dramatic stories, but are just as inspiring, like Damian, who quit his social work job to start a beekeeping company that is quickly becoming very successful.  Or Janice, who creates multi-story felt installations in museums.  At any given time, I have friends hiking to mountain peaks, kayaking in the Puget Sound, organizing for civil rights, traveling to distant countries, growing things, creating things, educating people, and basically making the world a better place.

My friends are creative, proactive, joyful, funny, ethical, political, smart, courageous, and unconventional.  They see the abundance in their lives more than the deficits.  They take opportunities when they come, rather than shrinking from risks.  They follow their passions, even when it is scary.  Being part of such a community is like being on a trampoline.  If you've ever jumped on a trampoline with multiple people, you have experienced the sensation of being lofted much higher when several people synchronize their jumps than when you jump alone.  I feel like all of my friends and I are jumping together, and it's fantastic.

Just a few of my friends:
Janice Arnold
Bee Local Honey
Bat Country
Tune Stranglers
Bil Fleming
Sarah Utter
Laurel True
Seattle Mosaic Arts
Vermont Youth Conservation Corps
Ride for MS
Ruby ReUsable

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post, Jennifer. Inspiring, uplifting and a great reminder to say thanks for all of the amazing people who make our lives fuller and richer every day.