Coffee & Contemplation: The Importance of Friendship

Note: Publishing work from my past is quickly becoming a series of sorts. There are so many pieces I’ve written that haven’t seen the light of day since Writer’s Workshop back in high school. Sharing them here seems like a cheat way to keep up with regular posts, but it’s also a little cathartic. I get to look back on how I’ve changed over the years, for better or worse. I get to reacquaint myself with an optimism and hopefulness I might have lost. This next piece highlights an appreciation for camaraderie I wish I could still embody. I also express my hedonistic and everlasting love for coffee, which thankfully has not changed. Let’s do this!

I have always been fond the coffeeshop atmosphere. A proud addict of the caffeinated drink myself, I am often found lingering in these havens of ripe conversation and artsy individuals. Today I am a part of this greater experience once again, with a double-shot espresso in hand and an ear toward the people around me. Listening in on various conversations but never truly committing is my speciality, for I am an observer. Today I bear witness to the remarkable manifestation of friendship among a group of fellow students who I am lucky enough to call my friends. These individuals have inspired me with their kindness and unwavering sincerity.

I believe that one never truly appreciates something they hold dear until it is gone. This is the most troubling form of ignorance, and we all suffer from it. In turn, one of the great aspirations of life must be to learn to incorporate gratitude in our perspective and appreciate the blessings we take for granted. Such blessings include our friends, or the people in our lives we trust with our uninhibited selves.

I’ve begun to realize the inherent nature of friendship. Making friends is not merely a search for another individual you can relate to, but the spontaneous “coming together” of two souls, each walking the path of existence. I don’t think we can control who befriends us. It merely happens. Increasingly I find myself drawn to the metaphor of leaves dancing in the wind to describe life. A leaf has no navigational capabilities, and so it is propelled into the great oblivion, careening throughout space and time and bumping into its brethren along the way. Many friends are made, and some are even lost.

The ultimate lessons come from our friends, for they are the very pinnacle of teachers. They gift us with love and kindness. They nurture our hearts and cultivate our spirits. They shed light when darkness falls and the path before us becomes murky. These are our true friends, the ones we never lose. A true friend is one who imprints a piece of their heart in another’s soul. Life throws us all into a mess of blessings and curses. It is our job to disentangle and learn from each. Our friends are here to teach us the way.

And so my day at the coffeeshop comes to a close. I glance at the kind folk around me and think about how truly lucky I am to enjoy such decent company. I stand up and push my chair in, taking care not to trod on anyone’s book bag. I throw my empty paper cup into the garbage and exit the shop, surrounded by a troop of comrades who have unknowingly imprinted my life with the simple yet profound lesson of appreciation.

The (Un) Discovered Country

There was once a Mother and her many children. Together, they lived and coexisted in a large and frightening world. In the beginning, there was only love and appreciation in their relationship. The Mother provided for her children by growing crops and raising animals. In turn, the children were charged with harvesting the crops, domesticating the animals, and above all, loving their Mother. Throughout many great epochs, this system worked and flourished. The children toiled happily to build a life and the Mother provided everything she could give.

Eventually a time came when some of the children wanted more from their Mother. They worked harder in order to prove their worth, and the Mother provided even more. However, She told them, “I am growing old, my children, and I must have your care in order to keep providing. I must have your love, cooperation, and peaceful intentions.”

For a time, the children heeded Her wish. They cared for their Mother’s well-being and reaped the fruits of their labor. However, this system couldn’t last forever. Several of the children wished they could have even more, at the expense of their siblings. They wished to grow strong and powerful. The Mother did not approve.

And so the time came when these few children asked their gracious Mother for more, once again, in order to fuel a war against their brothers and sisters. As sad as She was, the Mother could not deny Her children what they needed. She provided resources such as iron, steel, and uranium. What could these harsh materials ever be used for? The Mother labored at the coercion of her many children and slowly grew weak with each newly unearthed resource.

And so the war began. The children, for all of their self-justified reasons, were killing each other. The Mother weeped for Her losses, and struggled to keep providing. The children were intent on destroying each other, and She was slowly beginning to grow tired of watching the madness. Her faculties were becoming old and worn out. But still, She continued to love. When the war ended, and the remaining children were few and far between, they appealed to their Mother once again. The bloodshed had left them in far worse shape than they ever could have imagined. This time, they wanted food, water, and peace.

The Mother knew that She could provide little in Her terrible state, and least of all peace. This last request was one that the children must discover on their own. And so She whispered again, deep in Her throes of agony, “Even though I am ravaged, torn, and abused, I will always provide for my children. There is a country where you can find sustenance and joy. No matter how destroyed I have become, this country will always exist. It lies not in front of your eyes, my children, but in your hearts. The voyage to this place requires facing your inner fears and imperfections. It is the true voyage of self-discovery. It is a microcosm of greater possibilities.”

The children weeped for their Mother and regretted their foolish behavior. They watched as She slowly withered and could only provide less and less. They were to blame, the children who failed to provide love and nurturing. Distraught, they ceased any standing quarrels and made a vow. They would no longer wage meaningless wars against each other. They would dedicate themselves to their Mother and to finding this undiscovered country of hope and peace.

Why do we live in such madness?