Saturday, October 13, 2012
Prejudging the Duke
I have been sewing a lot recently, and when I decided I wanted to learn how to work with concealed zippers, I searched You Tube for instruction videos. They were helpful, but I wished for someone, a sewing friend, who could teach me this skill in person. Alas, I have no local sewing friends. I actually have few local friends at all. My time is taken up with work, family, home life, and hobbies, and there has never been anyone in Maine with whom I had a lot in common.
So I started to wonder if there is a compatible friend in this area for me. For this potential friend, I had a wish list and it was growing day by day. I want her to share my hobbies, of course - sewing, quilting, cross stitch. It would be great if she were musically inclined - piano? organ? Celtic harp? Singing? We could play and sing duets! How fun! I could also really could relate to someone with my social background - married for many years, a couple of adult kids, a few grandchildren - maybe even a caretaker of an elderly relative. That would certainly give us lots to talk about. Wow - I wonder if she could actually be a medical transcriptionist like me? We could share the laughs and frustrations of being in this wacky career! Would it be took much to ask for a friend with an affinity for history, especially Abraham Lincoln? Also, someone with my religious views, social views, political views? And someone who shares my eating preferences - that would make it way easy to get together...
A new coder started in our office a month ago. I thought, maybe I have lots of things in common with this lady! We are near the same age; she may become a "perfect fit" friend for me! I nonchalantly queried her one morning, as she seemed a little reserved and I didn't want to freak her out. "Do you have any hobbies?" I asked. Hobbies? She paused. "Yeah," I said. "Like sewing? quilting?" No, she said. But she does like to garden and go kayaking. (I don't spend time in nature, the idea of gardening makes my skin itch, and my one kayaking experience with dear friend Audrey was enough in my life, thank you very much!). Hmm... "Do you have children or grandchildren?" I asked. She shook her head no. Oh well. Strike out. She is such a nice lady, but we just aren't that compatible, apparently.
Then about a week ago, it hit me. I wasn't looking for a friend - I was looking for a CLONE of myself! How embarrassing! How ridiculous! How utterly boring that would be!
Sometimes we get so comfortable with ourselves and our lifestyles that we stay put in our regimented lives and instead of opening ourselves to possibilities, we make a prerequisite demand to the world that it matches our wants and interests. This was brought home to me recently when, as we were planning what movies to record on Turner Classic Movies, Ed and I came across Rio Bravo with John Wayne. "Ugh, no," I sniffed. "I hate John Wayne. I never watched a John Wayne movie in my life. I hate Westerns." Ed countered, "But you'd love this one. It's funny!" I balked, but he forced me to record it and forced me to watch it, and guess what - I loved it! He suggested another John Wayne movie, McLintock, and we acquired that and watched it and I loved it too! We watched The Shootist - a great movie! Why had this funny, talented John Wayne been missing from my life? Because I just "knew" I didn't like him and never bothered to really find out.
After that surprising revelation, I began to think of the friends I have had for years. They are not my clones. There are some things I share in common with each, but there are big differences there also. The diversity they bring to my life makes my life rich and meaningful. From one's political dialogue to another's unique interests and skills - from one's sense of humor to another's sexual orientation - from one's religious affiliation to another's life adventures.....each friend makes me more open, more aware, less judgmental and more accepting of all the variety life has to offer. I am so thankful they have been a part of my existence - whether local to me, or back in Tennessee, or as far away as California.
If all my friends were my clones, who would teach me something new? Who would challenge me? Who would talk me out of things I fear and nudge me here and there? Who would be strong when I am weak, and encouraging when I am down? The dichotomy, the give and take, would simply not be there, and life would be dull and certainly depressing.
Oh, yes - and that new coder? I love her hair and clothes - I want my hair to look exactly like hers and she wears all my favorite colors! She will be my inspiration!
The moral of this is - please - don't shut yourself out by only associating with people who are exactly like you, watching the same movies you've always watched, eating the same food you've always eaten. Believe me, it's hard to branch out - but can be so rewarding! Always be willing to try something new, learn something different, discover what makes that acquaintance tick, and then sit back and watch your life blossom with serendipity and surprises. This is especially true of the people we meet (or who have been sent to us?). Each unique person we encounter and form a relationship with is like a new flower to our gardens - new color, different style, different growing regimen, different scent - that together make life beautiful. Did I say garden? Maybe one day...and if I ever agree to get in another kayak on the ocean, I'll let you know...