I was sitting alone on holiday in the sun when the Kind Stranger came to me next. I’d been weary and tired – they’re different, aren’t they – and needed to hear a reassuring voice.
But it was his shadow I noticed first. It cast itself across the table I was sitting at and I knew straight away it was him. Typically he was not visibly filling the vacant chair at my side, but we both knew he was there. If he had been visible to the naked eye as well as the naked spirit, he would have been leaning back, smiling, relaxed, maybe with his legs crossed, drinking a smoothie.
“Hi Andrew.” It’s great he knows my name as well as yours. “Thinking again I see.”
“Yes, I do a lot of that.”
He didn’t reply. It amuses me how he is perfectly happy to leave my comments and expressed thoughts untouched. He has no compulsion to express his own (priceless) opinions, or pronounce subtle judgements in the way we humans are so clever at doing. So I asked him a question.
“Do you think a lot?”
He chuckled, as if the question itself was a little absurd.
“I used to,” he said. “However, now I tend to live more in the moment, being less concerned about having a thought-out answer for life’s pressing questions. Sometimes they’re better left alone with their mystery intact. I tend to consider whether or not the question has a satisfying answer – whether it needs to be asked at all. Often people ask questions to provide them with greater security or greater power. I’m not short of either of those!”
He paused, then continued, “And sometimes people think thinking is a safer alternative to acting, living out their lives.”
“Thinking to avoid the risk of failing, maybe?” I ventured.
He smiled again. “Could be.”
We’re never rushed when we’re together, the Kind Stranger and me. I don’t think he does ‘rushed’. We just sat for a few minutes, and then …
“I think to puzzle things out,” I said, “to somehow grasp the complexities of life and understand them, to simplify them, to increase my knowledge. In Powerchange we say that people are hunting for MCC, meaning, clarity, and closure.”
“And does it work?” he asked.
“I think so – it helps people make sense of a jumbled world.”
“That sounds to me like a quest for peace of mind!” he laughed.
“Absolutely!” I returned. We both laughed and the conversation went quiet for a few more minutes. We just sat.
“Andrew, I love you, you know.”
“Yes, I do know. I feel very very safe with THAT knowledge. It definitely brings MCC for me.”
“I love you when you’re thinking and when you’re not. I love you when you have answers and when you don’t. I love you when you feel safe and when you feel scared, and as I’ve said before, you’ll never be outside that love.”
I cannot describe how good it felt to hear him say that – though I’d known it to be true for many years. Friendship this deep, this real, this accepting, cannot be confined to the meagre expressions of the English language. It is drawn in through every sense we have – and more.
As I sat looking out from my shady table over the turquoise sea, listening to the breaking waves lap the shore, in my mind I saw the Kind Stranger get up from the table.
“Come on!” he invited. “Enough thinking!”
“Where are we going?” I asked, then watched in horror as he walked out on the surface of the water.
Another question, eh!” He teased. “You’ll never know if you stay where you are now. Come on, follow me.”
I rose from the table, left some change for the bill, and took a deep breath. Some things you just have to do, so I stepped onto the water too. It took a few steps of practice faith – about twenty or so – and I sank several times, but I soon got the knack.
You do, don’t you?