I know her breath, flow and intention better than I know the features of her face.
I know her rhythm and strength more than I know her favorite clothing and hair styles.
I know her honest, open heart but I don’t know what type of house she lives in or car she drives.
I joined a new gym last fall. The first day I went to yoga class there was one little spot available up front. I laid down my mat and began my practice. In the dimly lit room, I noticed the woman next to me throughout class. She was daring and strong. Committed and intentional. Her breath was consistent and her movement flowing. I was so affected by her presence and example. I felt emotionally stronger being near her. By the end of class I simply had to tell her, “It was so beautiful to practice next to you.”
We started to chat.
“I have 4 kids.”
“I have 3 girls and 1 boy.”
“My youngest is in the kid’s gym. She’s 3 and will turn 4 in January.”
It was then that I started to call her my yoga twin.
As months pass by, our friendship grows stronger (like the type of friendship where she’s early to class every day and always saves a mat for me!). I feel blessed to really know this yoga twin. Side by side. Breath by breath. Strengthening and falling. Laughing and crying. Succeeding and failing. All the while, supporting and loving.
Our new friendship causes me to reflect on how friendships begin. I believe it’s fair to say that most of our friendships start when we “see” something that we have in common, rather than “feel” something that we admire. We “see” someone with similar style or culture and we can begin a friendship with ease. We want to get to know someone better because they “look” like they would be a good friend. We “notice” a person first on their outward impression, sometimes by their work or their talents.
What if we found friends when we are blind to their outward appearance and accomplishments?
What if we made friends by entering a dimly lit room, laying down our mat and breathing side by side? Feeling someone’s intention. Sensing other’s needs or insecurities. Being motivated by someone’s confidence and direction. This would strip us of our natural inclination to judge someone’s outward appearance and compatibility. And what great friendships do we miss every day because of a quick judgement? I’m not talking about rude and calculated judgement, just the naturally quick assessment we tend to make as humans seeking out other friends to walk the path of life with for a time.
I am reminded of some fictional women whom I would also call my friends. The March sisters and their discerningly eloquent mother. Ponder on this from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women:
If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that’s all that you really are. Time erodes such beauty. But what it cannot diminish is the wonderful workings of your mind: your humor, your kindness, and your moral courage. These are the things I so cherish in you. —Marmee, Little Women
Words of wisdom from a mother to her daughters. Truly. Also, applicable to the topic at hand. Friendship. If we view our friends or potential friends as “decorative” and spend time appreciating or recognizing only what is on the outside, we miss the “wonderful workings” of their minds. As we quickly assess just the outside of people, we need always remember that it will take work and an investment to find out what “wonderful workings” lie inside them. I confess, some of my dearest friends throughout the years are those I was not naturally drawn to, but because we were given the space to understand each other’s inner workings, we now know what we “so cherish” deep inside each other.
The foundation of lasting friendships is more than recognizing trivial similarities. It’s recognizing the amazingness that lie inside another human on this path home. Side by side. Breath by breath. Strengthening and falling. Laughing and crying. Succeeding and failing. All the while, supporting and loving.
To my Yoga Twin: Thank you for reminding me of the wonderful workings of true friendship.