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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Open Words With Our Hearts

A Comfort Zone

After being away from my home in England for a few years travelling my birthplace Cyprus and Europe, some of my friends decided to throw a dinner party for me last week.

I have been very lucky with my friends. They are the most caring and patient bunch of people I shall probably ever have the good fortune to meet. They have to be, as I'm terrible at keeping up correspondence if I am away (and I am often away), and I constantly forget birthdays and special days, too.

However, my circle of friends faithfully choose to overlook these foibles of mine and always welcome me back into our close-knit community like the prodigal son finally returned.

So last week, as we cut the fatted calf (so to speak) and talked through to the early hours of the morning over some good wine in a very good location, I was humbly reminded of the fact that home or away, since our school days together, my friends have always been a comfort zone.

If I may be so bold as to overdo the figurative language for a moment: Like a comfortable-soft settee, a loving arm that cradles, or soup on a cold winter's day, true friendships warm us because they are manna to nourish a soul coming in from the wilderness.

They also support us emotionally, because we do not need to constantly explain ourselves to good friends. They know the right times to let us be, or when to pull us up about something, which they will do for our benefit, not theirs. They do this because they are opening words with their hearts first, not their mouths.

And we should hold on tightly to anyone this description applies, for it goes without saying that they are worth their weight in gold.

À la carte Conversation

At dinner with my friends a lot of interesting issues cropped up. Late in the evening, one specific subject that arose surprisingly revolved around my blog. I say surprisingly, because possibly a little naively, I hadn't realised that my friends might be such die-hard followers of Tarkan Deluxe as it hadn't been apparent from their emails to me.

One friend quite rightly commented How else would we know whether you're dead or alive when our emails take so long to be answered? to which I extended the necessary kudos, yet I still couldn't shake off my surprise.

To be faced with friends wanting to re-acquaint themselves with all my adventures aboard, when I had never openly talked with them about them is surprising.

They asked me about B, about my travels and the refugee situation in Cyprus, and one friend even thanked me for my "Life Handbook" in my Improving Ourselves articles and how it had indeed improved her life.

Yet, it was an observation from one of my closest friends that interested me the most. He pulled me up about how 2008 would go down in history as the year the world suffered its first financial crash of the century, but that from a reading of my blog's archives you wouldn't know it.

Banking on Kindness

It's true that people reading my blog wouldn't know about the crash of 2008 from my personal perspective, but that is because I have never been interested in the accumulation of money and therefore have none to lose.

I prefer to collect experience, knowledge and other stuff that might seem irrelevant in today's society, but I know will be of value one day.

I would be a fool, however, if I thought the global crisis wasn't a big issue for us in general. As job losses coincide with a high spike in the cost of living, people are going hungry. And if so many of us in the developed world are feeling the pinch to our pockets, can we imagine what it must like for those who have done without for so long?

During such times of hardship, it is easy for us to want to focus on our own problems and seem to have less time for others. In my opinion, such times of personal difficulty is the perfect time to do things for others - especially for our friends.

When surrounded by challenges, if we focus on kindness and being kind, it helps us put our attention back on what really matters. It is not easy to be kind when we have been hurt or when we are ruled by negative thinking patterns, but it gets easier with practice.

Taking it one step at time, we'll suddenly realise one day down the line that what we have in fact done by being kind to others has been to drastically change our own lives. We will have started handling our lives and ourselves with the kindness we give out so openly to others.

If we deposit kindness rather than money, ultimately the financial crisis that has ruled our lives will suddenly seem inconsequential, because our real wealth will lie not in our banks, but in ourselves.

And for the long run, that is something we can all invest in.

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