Yesterday I had lunch with an old friend, W. I've known W. for seventeen years now. We once were in a relationship, but after some years we both knew we were better off as friends. He has a lovely girlfriend now and I have my boyfriend and we still meet every once in a while to catch up.
First we had coffee. At least, he ordered coffee and I had tea. Ten minutes later, we got into a discussion. It was as if he spoke Spanish and I Chinese. I felt the tension between us, but somehow I was okay with it. I knew this is who we are. We sometimes fight. It is okay. We can handle it. After all, we are friends. W. was not handling it well. He stood up from his chair and walked away. I asked for the check and followed W. He was waiting on the corner of the street. I saw he was upset. I took his arm and we walked for minutes, not saying anything. The only sound to be heard was his loud breathing.
'What is the matter?' I asked. 'What is really the matter?'
We sat down at a terrace. He blew his nose and started telling.
He was sad that his life was not the same as it used to be.
'I am losing friends,' he said. 'Most of them have kids now and I do not longer relate to them. Everything is boring now. What's happened? We used to go out all of the time. Have fun. Drink, dance, party, flirt. I still want that. But I am under the impression I am the only one.'
'Maybe you need new friends?' I asked.
'I definitely need new friends, my old ones have become useless.'
I bit on my lip.
'What would you like? What is your ideal way of spending a free Saturday?'
'To go to the park with friends. But they have to leave their kids at home. I want the sun to shine, that everybody is laughing, that we eat good food and drink expensive wine and that when it is dark we go party.'
'Sounds like a commercial,' I said.
'Why?' He said. 'Is this so much to ask? I don't think so.'
I started talking to him about what I'd learned by practicing yoga, and by reading spiritual books. I told him he cannot change his friends. I told him he had to find a way to be thankful and satisfied with the things he already has around him. I told him he had to meditate. To do yoga. To quit smoking. To eat healthy. To be humble. To find a way to be happy. Not to blame his friends. To search within himself to find happiness.
After a few hours, we both went our separate ways. I felt fine. Satisfied. I had helped a friend in need.
When I came home, W. had sent me a message. It said he was tired and that he felt empty. But that he was looking forward to go on a holiday with his girlfriend.
It made me feel sad. I had wanted to help W. But somehow now I felt that I hadn't.
I opened Twitter. I saw a picture, posted by @raj72843569_raj
'To be kind is more important than to be right. Many times what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks, but a special heart that listens.'
I'd better listen next time.
I took this picture in San Francisco, U.S.A.