By Sharka Waite
“Enjoying the joys of others and suffering with them – these are the best guides for men.” – Albert Einstein (1931)
Back in the day, when I was young and restless, when insomnia was my daily or rather nightly companion, coffee shops were open till midnight and Kinko’s 24 hours seven days a week, I used to spend a lot of time alone being creatively active. That was before cell phones and social media. Somewhat simpler times, when sitting in Barnes & Nobles sampling multiple books at the same time while sipping a cup of coffee in the downstair’s cafeteria seemed like the most sensible thing to do on a rainy afternoon. Or perhaps, a sensible thing to do for a young introvert who moved from country to country having difficulty with finding new friends. I still, to this date, love being creative and make spontaneous art gifts for friends (as I did the below drawing for a friend’s birthday who loves all things Einstein), but you won’t find me at Kinko’s at 3am, and, not only because they’re not open that late anymore. :o)
How simple yet profound Rumi’s words are, as he states; “What you seek is seeking you.” Isn’t it usually similar interests, personality types, character and temperament, life experiences and values, that bind us with others with whom we find meaningful relationships? We might find our best friend across the world. Our soul-mate might be fishing on the Pacific Coast while his counterpart may be playing in the European lakes. Is there a spiritual magnetism working its magic on a global scale or are we genetically predisposed to find that which, in synchronicity, is looking for us?
I recently read an article about a new study that, according to James Fowler, coauthor of the study and professor of medical genetics and political science at UC of San Diego, we have more DNA in common with the people we pick as friends than we do with strangers in the same population. What a fascinating thought. That explains why we enjoy a cup of coffee with friends who like the smell of coffee. However, how do we explain the fact that some of our closest family members couldn’t care less about our well-being and in some instances even behave more like enemies, despite sharing a large portion of DNA? …must be the smell of coffee. That’s a puzzle for the next study, I’m afraid.
As I spent my young years living in different countries of Europe, I couldn’t have ever predicted when and where I’m going to meet meaningful people in my life, however, somehow I knew they were out there in every country, every corner of this planet. That’s what interested me in traveling in the first place. There were many friendships based on gender, age, common interest and activities, however, some were so interesting and deep even with a generational gap (actually most of them have been with a generational gap), that words fail to explain their magnificence. They were all a work of heart and soul.
As Emerson pointed out; “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something.” I couldn’t agree more. When I lost my job that I loved a few years ago, I was devastated and to a certain degree lost the meaning of my being. However, as much as I missed it immensely I also enjoyed the extra time it suddenly presented, as I used to work countless hours overtime, not necessarily because I had to but because I truly loved what I was doing. After I emotionally recovered from the loss, I realized this might be the perfect time to finally go after my dream of publishing my poetry and photography collected throughout the years. Amazingly, by publishing my book After the Sunset, I met some incredible people and a few of them even became my friends. One of them is another fellow author (although he is in a class of his own), as he is a retired four-decade high school teacher, who published a fascinating book called Biodesign Out For A Walk. (I would suggest you visit his site and read the book if you enjoy reading about adventure, meaning of life, and hiking in National Parks instead of learning in a class setting). It might seem as an unlikely friendship at first, but what a world of wisdom! Initially we connected through our love for nature, then it grew through the depth of one’s heart and soul, then through the wonder of life, and continue still through a spiritual path we might not be able to explain. We mostly correspond via old fashion mail with cards and letters (we keep the postal service in business for sure), and every time a holiday or my birthday comes, I receive a beautifully wrapped book or other small gift from his wife (By the way, they have been together for 50 years…what a wonderful example to have in your life). It’s one of those rare things you only read about in old-time English novels.
I consider myself extremely fortunate, despite my heartfelt losses, to have all that I do have and the few good friends I treasure, who are deep and sincere, bringing light and hope to my life. So, whether we’re genetically predisposed to surround ourselves with friends of similar genome, or if we’re seeking what is seeking us, perhaps genuine beauty should be the aim. Beauty of our own heart, beauty of the soul, beauty of the spirit, beauty of a kind word, beauty of true friendships, beauty in nature, and in the world. We shouldn’t only seek it, we should become it.
Peace & Joy