Right now, I am knee-deep into the book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. This novel was recently made into a movie starring Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks…and is one of the better books I have read this year.
The main character Oskar is a young boy who plays the tambourine incessantly and is an encyclopedia of facts..but has trouble socially. He is also deeply grieving the loss and death of his father. These words come after meeting his upstairs neighbor, an elderly gentleman whose colorful and adventurous life stopped after his wife died.
How could such a lonely person have been living so close to me my whole life? If I had known, I would gone to keep him company. Or I would have made some jewelry for him. Or told him hilarious jokes. Or given him a private tambourine concert.
Where friendship is concerned, I like Oskar’s immediate response…he does not deny his own pain or reality, but seems to just move within it, being himself in the moment, knowing he has something to offer someone in their loneliness.
While it does not hurt to be kind of other drivers on the road, the man or woman at the checkout, the barista or the surly teenager, we have the chance to move beyond “If I had known…” and work within what we do know as we grow in friendships: We are not made of steel and we could all use a private tambourine concert.
If you are not the “performing type” or are short on hilarious jokes, there are still things that you do have that you can offer others in just being yourself. These are the things that help a friendship move beyond “If I had known…” and into a relationship that acknowledges who both women are and where their own lives might have stopped.