Dare to Connect

Last night I said ‘fare thee well’ to a friend.

No, our friendship isn’t over, but it’s moving into a different phase.

My friend is moving out-of-state after having lived in our fair city for just a year and a half. I had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with her on the eve of her departure. My friend is from France; a place where outward over-sentimentality can be frowned upon – though she would never do as such. In our goodbyes I wanted to be respectful of her culture so I did my best to keep it together as we chatted about her time here in the Middle of America over a glass of wine.

I failed.

During a lighthearted story about spending a few weeks with the circus, the tears began to flow.

“I can see that you are sad! Why are you sad? This is a happy story!” My friend exclaimed in her disarming upspeak as she rushed to comfort me.

I was moved by the moment that has capped off our main experiences together in Wichita. As I sat down on the couch and got comfortable; my friend did something so touching, without touching me at all. She positioned herself on the ottoman directly across from me, took her drink in her hand, looked me in the eye, leaned forward with her elbows on her knees and she gazed at me. She made eye contact. She acknowledged me. Everything about her countenance said, “I accept you.” This is one of the most powerful messages we can ever send another human being.

I praised her for her bravery and blooming in this new country and she told me that we had both grown so much during the time she’s been here. Vulnerability is something I’ve been working towards at the urging of BrenĂ© Brown, and my friend knows this – she has given me the gift of allowing me to be vulnerable in her presence. As I was leaving she said to me: “We are both brave, because we dared to connect.”

Connectivity is so important and can be lacking in our lives. As my friend pointed out, it takes courage to connect. As I left her last night I was reminded of the powerful emotions that washed through me when I first saw a video of Marina Abramovic’s “The Artist Is Present“. I encourage you to be present with your friends and those you love. Look them in the eye. If you are alone, be present with yourself – gaze into your own eyes in the bathroom mirror, you might be surprised by what you see.