Saturday, July 21, 2012

Not Such A Small World After All

Anais Nin once said that, “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” Seems like a lot of pressure to put on a new friendship, creating a whole new world within a world; but what a magnificent blessing those worlds become!

I don't know much about Anais Nin, other than she was a French-Cuban writer who published her journals spanning more than sixty years of her life. (If I were to publish my journals, anyone who read them would get so lost on the rabbit trails they’d never make it back!) However, I do know that she was right about this one thing at least – that each friend represents a world in us. I am blessed with many worlds myself. So let’s explore this concept together, shall we?

Think about it this way:  how many of you have your “work friends” and then your “church friends”? Or if you don’t have a job yet, your “school friends”? Don't go to church, then perhaps your "weekend friends." You have old friends and new friends, friends from college, and friends that come in pairs (you and your spouse are friends with him/her and spouse). Some worlds never cross, other times worlds collide. Once in a while one explodes. Some people have so many they command their own solar system.

It's a complex system we create for ourselves. Add to that the varying degrees of friendship:  acquaintance, friend, close friend, best friend….“just” friend. Wouldn’t you agree that something as unique as a snowflake and as complicated as a junior high romance definitely qualifies as having its own “world”?

This idea is nothing new. From the first, God designed us to be social: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” Genesis 2:18. And so the first world within a world was created. English poet John Donne said that “No man is an island,” referring to the absolute truth that humans are not created for isolation. Now we have social media sites and text messaging to keep us in touch with those worlds in a matter of seconds.

As I began to reflect on the worlds that make up my own (in preparation for writing a special “happy birthday blog” for a friend), I couldn’t help but see the concept of “world” in a new way. In fact, several of my favorite quotes are now even more profound. For instance, Winston Churchill noted that “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on” [italics mine]. Or the Dalai Lama saying, “With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” This is true not only of the world within us, but all the worlds born from our meeting new friends.

So I will leave you with one of my favorites, a quote from Mahatma Ghandi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

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