In Search of Better Stories

They Helped Me Remember

     It had been years since we told our love story, but here we were,
reminiscing by candlelight, listening to “What a Wonderful World” being
played live on a steel drum. Our story tumbled out as we ate exotic
Jamaican food and sipped overpriced cocktails. Memories long forgotten,
pushed down by the grind of life, popped to the surface of our minds
like spring flowers in Stanely Park. Fresh sightings of old memories
filled us with joy and new life.

    Mistin and I really did meet on a blind date that went magical
and didn’t end until three in the morning, with both of us stumbling
back to our respective towns absolutely smitten. I really did buy a ring
and a plane ticket, flying off to France to chase down this beautiful
girl in hopes she would say “yes” to me. We really did go on a crazy
trip down to Spain and through North Africa. Love-struck adventurers
sure of nothing but the explosive passion we felt for each other. We did
climb a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. I did get down on one
knee. She did say yes! Oh, the healing power of sweet memories! Their
wondrous comforts came to us at such a crucial time when so many
daunting challenges abound. What a gift they are. We have a story, a
sacred history that binds us together. The memories wrap around us like a
warm hug.

     What brought them on? What was the trigger that nudged them forward? Was it the steel drum and the Jamaican rum? Was it the soft light of a candle? Was it Valentine’s day? More than anything, it was friendship that initiated our healing moment. We went out with some good friends. As we enjoyed each other’s company, their love story spilled out, and so did ours, but it only came forward because of a four-way connection. One of us would ask a question, which would spark a memory in the other, which would trigger a “you too?” moment, which would be followed by another related story. This warm web of connectedness acted like a magnet pulling long-buried shards of joy infusing memory out of the backwaters of our minds.  Without friendship, this reviving magnetism isn’t possible.

     Experts tell us that chronic loneliness and disconnectedness is the western world’s most pressing problem. One of the most significant consequences of our disassociated lives is the loss of our good memories. When fewer people are in our lives, the magnetism needed to draw out the good moments of our existence dissipates. Without friends, we become cut off from this vital source of joy. Friendship is tricky in our world today. Hucksters and advantage-takers abound, and pain can often result from our pursuit of friendship. It’s easier to pick up our devices and descend into isolated and distracted lives. But there is no joy at the bottom of that hole: no joy and no chance to recover the memories that make up the wonder and beauty of your life.  This little trek to our local Jamaican restaurant with friends taught me more than ever how valuable and necessary friendship is to human flourishing.

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