“I think the nicest people should have the most friends.” ~ Eliana, age 12
You’d think, right?
My daughter has always been incredibly astute, a great judge of character, greater even than her open-minded mom, and she is wise beyond her years. So now, as she faces the exhilaration and exasperation of middle school, her commentary on relationships bears ever more brilliance.
The nicest people should have the most friends.
So why is it that, throughout our lives, those who quip and comment, judge and follow, are the ones who find themselves most surrounded by others? Whereas, the folks who share their heart, open their ears and truly care are often alone in the wind?
In a commentary on yesterday’s Torah portion, a friend wrote of the “still small voice” God used to reveal himself to Elijah the Prophet. (Ironically, Elijah is the one who wafts in on Passover eve, drinks the wine left for him on our beautiful tables, and drifts out without ever being seen. Yet, we feel his miraculous presence.)
So, too, the still small voice, or in Hebrew, the “kol demamah dakah,” is what the Creator uses to announce his existence, his presence.
It is so much harder to hear the gaps in the silence than it is to fill them up with meaningless talk.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable in the silence? Alone with yourself, with your thoughts? I’ve been there, busying myself to fill the discomfort with places and people, tasks and to-dos.
And in the end, I always come home to myself, where the silence lives.
The still, small voice. That inner voice, the inner knowing we all have but rarely visit.
It is hard to be alone with ourselves. Even harder to face the uncertainties we call truth. When we see people struggling, when they lash out and blame, when they whine and bemoan, lament their lot in life, what is that, really?
These days, I keep thinking of that video circulating online, showing the size of our planet in comparison to other planets, the sun, the universe and beyond, and reminding us that when we feel panic or anxiety, to put it in perspective. You are here (little tiny dot). You are this big (really small). Get it together.
Because that is the supreme truth.
Whatever little annoyances we give so much attention to don’t really matter at all.
What someone said or did, our unmet expectations, the harsh realities spoken by someone daring enough to be real. It’s all good. Really, it is.
In the stillness and silence, you hear truth. Which is why it’s so uncomfortable to sit with it.
But try. Don’t rush to fill it. Just be. See what comes forth. And if you can face it, you will walk away stronger and taller, more confident, more content.
Contentedness is a remarkable thing. I’ve only just come to it in recent years, this feeling of being happy with what I have, of realizing how amazing my life is.
I’m not famous. I’m not a millionaire. Sometimes people don’t like me. Sometimes they do.
Yesterday, my husband was watching a soccer game I coached, and one of the moms said something really nice about me. He told me after the game, when we were driving to the ice cream parlor for Shaya to get a root bear float at 11 a.m. on a Saturday, after such a hard-playing game on the pitch.
Nice. I loved the idea of someone liking me afar enough to voice it.
Yesterday, I was nothing special. Black leggings and an asymmetrical royal blue shirt with worn winter boots. Nothing extraordinary to comment about.
Or perhaps absolutely extraordinary in my ordinariness.
In the silence, you hear what is real. Everything we concoct to get us through the days melts away in its inherent unimportance and what emerges is a freeing sense of reality.
If you dare enough to face yourself, you’ll find it.
Yes, I agree with my daughter that the nicest people should have the most friends.
But it doesn’t happen because the mere possibility of being truly seen by another person, of being that vulnerable and exposed, is just not a comfortable state for most of us.
The nicest people should have the most friends. What attracts us is a clinging sense of belonging, of being like everyone else, not risk-taking, not daring.
Secretly, we all prefer the nicest people because they are so genuine. What if we aspired to be just like them? How would our worlds change?
How would we?