Week 1: about friends

“Follow the random interconnectedness of all things” said Mr O. as I was leaving Barcelona after 6 months of life. Somehow, consciously or not, that is exactly what I was doing in 2017.

On a sunny afternoon in Amsterdam, one the closest people in my life asked me to draw a map of the people in my universe. As it came together, bit by bit, event after event, person after person, it somehow put things into focus. It showed on one piece of paper how much heart-to-heart human interaction happened over the last couple of years.

Then, I spent the rest of the year reconnecting with one person after another. I was catching up on 7-8-9- years of hardly any contact. Amazingly, it turned out that there is much to go back to. That so many doors are open, so many flights to be booked, so many talks and teas to be shared. With each hello, smile and hug, here are a few things I’ve learnt in 2017 about friends:

That so many of the fantastic people are waiting for a permission to go and do that “thing” that has been their Big Hairy Audacious Goal for (sometimes) years. That sometimes, we do not need help, we just need somebody to look deep into our eyes, hold our hand and confidently say with a broad smile, “You are ready. Yes, already. In fact, you are ready now. Go, do it.” That it could be me who gets to say this 🙂

That meeting for a coffee is not enough. Ever. You got to go and spend at least a day or a whole weekend together. To have that silly night chat when both of you are too tired to be reasonable. To drink more tea than either can handle (only the good tea, please). To talk the silly-silly things. To laugh your lungs out while stretching the wrinkles around your eyes. Go book at least a full day. Be with your people when they are sleepy, tired, happy, elated, proud, silly, grumpy, scared. Allow yourself (and them) to experience more than just one shade of the current you.

That it’s possible to travel together while not moving an inch. To create worlds together, to make up names, to imagine what’s beyond the realm of the possible.

That it takes courage to tell you that you are wrong when somebody cares. Plain and straight. This year, I had so many good sentences in my direction when I was wrong. Again, again and again. Frist reaction is always to go and hide and pretend that it did not happened. Second reaction is “wait a minute, ego. They care more than anybody. They got a point”. Then you dive where it hurts and see why it hurts (this is where the opportunity for growth, learning and development comes).

That’s sometimes you need time together and time apart. We needed time to become the people who said, “hello”, “I’m sorry” or “here we are because this matters” to us.

That it’s up to me. That looking after relationships that are important to me is up to me. With most of my close friends, I share a long-distance relationship and it’s up to me to look after it (audiobooks of WhatsApp messages, random check-ins, booked flights, skype calls, virtual hugs etc).

2018 started with outstanding invitations in the form of “when are you coming to Paris?”, “when you come to Budapest, we will…”, “when you are in Amsterdam, we are going…”, “best brownies in Zurich”, “I will measure our couch in Athens as it should fit 156 cm of you” plus endless Kyiv. As I stop to close 2017, I can’t quite believe how extraordinary my friends are. I bet yours are too. Go tell them!

Here’s a good new year resolution, to become at least half the person that your closest friends know you to be (if only sometimes, we could see ourselves through another person’s eyes).

Did Moroz Hugs (Ukrainian Santa who brings presents on New Year’s Eve),
Iryna

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