I am grateful for all of my circles of family and friends, offline and online, but on this day of Thanksgiving, I want to express my special appreciation for a small subset that I often call my speed dial friends: the set of my closest friends whose phone numbers I have programmed into the single-digit speed dial keys of my mobile phone (though now, with my iPhone, they are listed on the "Favorites" menu). These are the friends who I can - and do - regularly reach out to during my highest and lowest moments, who reliably help me regain a more balanced or centered perspective. They are friends who are there for me when all I need is a witness - someone will listen with empathy, and withhold judgment - or when I need an active adviser - someone who will share his or her insights, experience, strength and hope.
In some speed dial friend phone calls, I am able to discover solutions myself, simply through the act of articulating the challenge(s) I am facing, an adult version of a parent's exhortation to a toddler who is acting out to "use your words", or an oral version of the therapeutic value of writing about emotional experiences. Other times I need more active facilitation, and these friends are able to skillfully and compassionately help me elicit the hidden fears and needs that lie beneath the surface problem(s), and to separate out the data, judgments, feelings and wants. Many times, the revelation of the underlying causes of my pain shines a light on a clear path to move forward, but at other times, when the true way remains wholly lost, they are able to offer additional guidance toward the right path, or at least a path with heart.
My speed dial friends are diverse in some ways - the set includes both men and women, whose work spans different professions, and who live in different places - but most are close to my own age and socio-economic class. Many of my speed dial friends have gone through various forms of spiritual training, and all have experienced significant physical, emotional and/or spiritual crises. I suppose many people my age have experienced significant life challenges; what separates my speed dial friends may be the way they have worked through these challenges, and the wisdom they have gained through the process.
In fact, one of the common characteristics of all my speed dial friends is that they are uncommonly wise. Having recently revisited and reviewed some material on Maslow's hierarchy of needs (for my last post about Starbucks and community), I believe each of them is self-transcendent, e.g., they each "perceive unitively or sacrally" and are "much more consciously and deliberately metamotivated" and "more holistic about the world" than most of the people I encounter. I hope some of their wisdom is transmitted to me through each of our interactions.
I like to think of myself as being authentic, open and vulnerable in my face-to-face interactions as well as my online interactions with many people. I have worked out many issues simply through blogging about them, often aided by comments posted by others, and I sometimes find myself unexpectedly working out my issues while posting comments on others' blogs - a theme I blogged about in a post inspired by Don Miguel Ruiz's second agreement, don't take anything personally: commenting on commenting. I can't say, however, that I've worked out any significant issues via Twitter ... the 140-character limitation doesn't seem to allow for sufficient depth.Speaking of depth, I feel like I've been going off the deep end on several of my recent posts, so I'm going to end this one here ... which may be a relief, and perhaps even a cause for giving thanks, for anyone who takes the time to read my blog posts. I'll note, with some sense of irony, that as far as I know, while all of my speed dial friends have mobile phones - in fact, I think nearly all of them now have iPhones - and computers, most of them don't read my blog with much regularity. So, on this day of Thanksgiving, I also want to extend my thanks to anyone who does take the time to read my posts, with special thanks to those who take the additional time to share their wisdom, insights, experience, strength and/or hope in comments on - or tweets about - the posts.