A couple of weeks ago, I got together with two of my dearest friends, and we had a sleepover.
We’re not teenagers anymore, but for some reason, sleepovers are still thrilling. They’re full of secrets and snacks and movies and laughter. Ours also involved Beyonce.
There’s something indescribable about being with friends who’ve been a part of your life for years. These are two of the people who know me best, and when we get together, we put everything on the table. Even if it’s heavy, we know we can talk about anything, and it’s going to be safe.
It’s been a pretty hectic and draining season for each of us, so we care deeply about the time we have together. We talked about our weeks, we went to a comedy show, we made breakfast together, and we watched Silicon Valley. There were some tears shed and some words of comfort spoken. There were stories told that were heartbreaking, and there were stories told that were hilarious. There were photos taken (some of our food and some of my friend’s cat), and there was reminiscing. Obviously, there was also coffee.
A few days later, I received a call from one of those friends: she had been in an accident, and she was in a lot of pain. Thankfully, she was physically okay. But the accident had come at the worst possible time, and she was at the end of her rope.
A simple group text went up like the bat signal, and we were all at her house that night.
We surrounded her like a battalion, armed with food and funny gifs. My heart ached so deeply for my friend. But as we all sat on the floor around her coffee table and ate cookies together – alternating between heavy conversation and fits of laughter -- I remember thinking (in a rare moment of clarity), “I don’t want to ever forget this night.”
It was a moment in time tinged with deep sorrow, but with even deeper compassion and love. There was an unspoken sense of camaraderie, purpose, and resolution – an agreement that we were not going to let our friend go through pain without our support. In spite of the sadness we felt because of what she was going through, our hearts were knitted even more closely together that night, and in that we felt joy. It was yet another reminder to me of a lesson I’ve been learning over the past couple of years: no matter what life throws at you -- and since we live in a broken world, it will often chuck some uncomfortably heavy objects in your direction -- there are always moments of indescribable beauty laced in among the pain.
I tend to be the type of person who writes things off as “cheesy” fairly often. Count your blessings? Cheesy. Cherish every moment? Cheesy. Live as if there’s no tomorrow? So. So. So. So. Cheesy.
I think part of the reason I’m like this is because I don’t like feeling vulnerable. It’s easier to pretend that things don’t move me emotionally, because then I don’t have to risk getting wounded. If I never allow something to speak to me -- if I never open up my heart to experience life at it’s fullest – then I might be seen as cool, aloof, calm, independent and worldly. But I will miss out on some truly important valuable moments.
When we first moved into our building at work, there were only a few of us on the team and I was often alone in my office. In an attempt to give the space some color, I started adding random photos and prints to the wall above my desk. At first, I tried to make sure everything on the wall was hip. Nothing cheesy. Everything had to consist of vague phrases with perfect beaches in the background, or hipster typography featuring mountains. I wanted to give off that “I’m effortlessly cool and not at all basic or corny” vibe. It was a great plan.
However, that soon proved to be pretty lame because none of it really inspired me – so I gave in to the cheese. I love my wall now because it’s full of reminders to deeply value those special moments. It’s covered with all of the most ridiculously sappy quotes – and I never want to take them down (I still refuse to use the word Wanderlust though).
If there’s anything that I was reminded of that night when I sat around the table with my friends, it’s that all of life is a gift.
There are gifts every morning and every night. Sometimes they’re hidden behind some fog, but they’re still there. They come in the form of tender phone conversations, dance parties with your baby cousins, group texts that make you double over laughing, and late night jacuzzi sessions. They come in the form of spontaneous trips, shared playlists, and sushi. And we let the sweet moments pass us by because we’re running at full speed.
The problem is that we desperately need those moments. Because as much as life is a gift, it’s also a marathon. And at some point, we’ll each trip and fall down for a bit.
Those are the times when the gifts are all the more important to hold onto.
They keep us going until we can start running again.