A World of Friends
“Some people should stay around your entire life, while others should only make an appearance.”
After breaking free from my somewhat sheltered and slightly ignorant small town country life I started working in a German owned automotive company. This came after I left a management position in a pharmacy chain in my bold attempt to explore new possibilities. It was humbling, because this job I went to was a production job, but they paid for my college. The production job was perfect for me, because there was no stress. I only had to work, which allowed me to save all my brain power for the college classes. The most valuable part of the experience was my introduction to new cultures. Of course Germans had a strong presence there, but many others as well. I made my first black friends there because the small town from which I came was 99.99% white. I made a few new Latin friends from Mexico and South America and a few Asian friends as well.
Perhaps the most interesting of that time were the Middle Eastern friends that suddenly arrived as a group one day. They appeared as a small gang of 8 and were obviously new to the country and culture here. My new interest in cultures had me being of the first to start befriending them and learning their story. They were in the first Iraq/USA war in the early 90s, but on the Iraqi side. The masses of approaching US troops and tanks forced realization of some Iraqis that they were outmatched and they surrendered. They would have been killed as surrendering traitors if they stayed in Iraq after that so the USA brought many of them here. The one I became very good friends with (Ahmed) told me many stories of his family, country, and wars he fought in as we sat at camp fires talking and drinking beers. I was his trusted advisor in career advancement, dating, and USA life in general and eventually his best man at his wedding. I haven’t talked with Ahmed for many years, but we both know the brotherhood we formed will last forever and I believe our paths will meet again. I think he eventually moved to Washington DC for a government job. I know his general determination in life will take him far.
Since that time, I’ve had the pleasure of forming several friendships with men and women from various backgrounds as I did with Ahmed. The special thing about the bond is that even during times of months or years of no communication we can pick up where we left off and it doesn’t feel strange. During my career I’ve made friends from many other places and learning about their country and culture has been one of the greatest parts of my perceptions and intelligence in general. Travels in Asia, South America, Mexico, etc. will be memories I keep forever and having a global list of contacts has many benefits for someone that likes to travel or potentially need a favor from afar.
So, what about the ones that entered my life and exited without leaving such a mark? For me, I think they were still special and I learned things from them. Mostly things about what and who to avoid in life in general, lol, but I’m thankful for them because they also helped me learn how to be happy and live a positive lifestyle. Yet, sometimes it feels hard to let the bad things go and it’s a trait I’m trying to improve always. If a younger person asked me for advice about what he should do to make life interesting and successful I would tell him “travel and make many friends.”
Closing with an Eckhart Tolle quote:
“A genuine relationship is one that is not dominated by the ego with its image-making and self-seeking. In a genuine relationship, there is an outward flow of open, alert attention toward the other person in which there is no wanting whatsoever.”
― Eckhart Tolle