I’m very lucky. Some would say, however, I’m very unlucky. One of my closest friends lives in Sweden, far far away. We only get to share a cuppa together once a year or so, when she returns home to Australia for a holiday. Yes, we still talk between visits using the wonders of technology, but there’s nothing better than actually being in the same room together.
Although I miss Fiona terribly, I’m very lucky her visits are infrequent. Fiona is a skilled listener and she truly cares about all that I share with her. This means she has an exceptional memory. She has become, in fact, my human barometer. Each time that Fiona visits I am reminded of what was important to me all those months ago during her last visit. I’ve started to measure my life in “fionas”…worrying about one of my children at school was three “fionas” ago (three visits), complaining about stressors at work was two “fionas” ago and sharing John’s new kind deeds was only one “fiona” ago. This is the only benefit of having a close friend live so far away…when we do share time together she reminds me of moments that have passed. More importantly, her reminders show me how much my life has changed since her last visit, and, dare I say it, there are times I am embarassed I fussed over things that seem so trivial now.
Her questions about my life highlight the feelings I had back then. My passions that have now waned; my fears that I have now overcome; my anxiety that feels so irrelevant now (replaced by more recent concerns perhaps?); and my joy that I had in that moment. Everyone needs a human barometer like my dear Fiona. Nowadays, I find myself thinking about my experiences as a “fiona” moment. Even when she is not here, I imagine myself recounting my situation, and wondering how it will appear in three “fionas” time. Will it still seem so critically important to me then? Probably not. Knowing this means I’m better able to let the small things go, to resist the temptation to turn them into situations I feel anxious about. At our next cuppa, when Fiona reminds me of stories from her last visit, I want them to be worth remembering. Who wants to revisit a storm in a teacup? These days I ask myself how important my reaction is in any given moment.
Stephen Covey talks about the importance of beginning with the end in mind. Covey was originally referencing this to imagination and goal setting, but I think there’s a more immediate relevance to it. When I find my self in a situation that irritates me, or upsets me, or shakes my confidence I take the time to think ahead. At my next cuppa with Fiona (or even on a larger scale…at the end of my life) is this how I want to be remembered? Are these the emotions/reactions/behaviours I want Fiona to remind me about? Is this really going to be important to me in the months or years ahead? If the answer is a resounding no, then I choose to behave differently at the very moment I am aware of my response. Life has become so much easier, lighter and peaceful since my friend doubled as my barometer. Just another reason I am so grateful for her friendship. Do you have a barometer to help you through life?