Thursday, February 17, 2022


While I did not realize it at the time, I used to seriously confuse quantity and quality.

Take diamonds, for instance.

I have always loved diamonds. My birthstone is diamond. I am drawn to light, and I am attracted to sparkle.

For much of my life I could not afford to buy diamonds.

To adorn myself with gems of light and sparkle, I treated myself to the alternative I could afford.


While embarrassing to admit I wore too many rhinestones, while when asked, professed that they were real.

Stay with me.

I pretended to myself that they were real. When I discovered cubic zirconia, I was thrilled, as those gemstones appeared even more genuine. There was an unconscious equation between worth and the sparkle that adorned my physicality. I pretended to believe that I deserved diamonds, and so I bought large quantities of fake adornments just so I could flash and shine and appear to be appropriately accessorized for a person of my caliber.


Rhinestones and cubic zirconia do not have the strength or durability of diamonds. They cannot sustain time, wear, or chemicals. They can not stand up to the rigors of authentic gemstones. They would eventually discolor and lose their luster. Stones would loosen and fall out. As the years went by, I began to prefer no jewelry to artificial jewelry.

I began to prefer no jewelry to artificial jewelry.

My first real diamonds were gifts.

I still could not personally afford diamonds, which made the gifts even more precious. They represented to me objects of love and generosity. They were real, as were the relationships from which they were bestowed. Or at least they seemed to be. The jewels outlasted the relationships, and I eventually sold the gems. They still had plenty of sparkle, yet they also represented plenty of pain.

Now I can afford a few diamonds, though most of my jewelry remain gifts. I have real diamonds, and I admit to loving to see them shine. I do not have the volume of diamonds that I did rhinestones. Yet the diamonds are real and can sustain any amount of time, wear, and chemical.

The same is true of my relationships.

Though I am a lifelong introvert I went through periods in my lifetime when I accumulated acquaintances that at the time, I called my friends. In my younger days I especially courted so called important people, thinking it somehow gave me clout and gravitas. Now I see I was collecting rhinestone relationships, cubic zirconia’s that I called my friends.

Let me be clear that I am not referring to the depth of people. I am not describing what is Truth. I am describing a certain level of relationship that I thought would add sparkle to my life. I frequently suspected that they had no depth or reality. I at the time could not “afford” the process I would have to endure to be authentic and open to more priceless relating. The cost of meaningful, sustainable relationship is high. And it is the most priceless of gifts.

Over time, wear, and challenge these rhinestone relationships lost their sparkle, and proved to be unsustainable. When I needed them most, their artificiality was revealed. The quality was revealed, the shine was lost, and the relationship passed on.

Now I have perhaps fewer real friends than I do diamonds. I no longer pretend that people are friends when in fact they are not. Friendship is precious and indeed priceless to me. I do not confuse quantity with quality. I do not equate social media acquaintances with real, sustainable relationships.

I have a few high-level friends who are genuine and that have sustained the tests of time and wear. They really are of the best quality. They are multi-faceted. They add shine to my heart and to my life.

I feel no need to accumulate more friends, anymore than I feel the need for more diamonds. What I have are real. They are beyond carats that can be measured. As I think of my diamond relationships, I know how truly rich I am. They are my true birthstones, and I am grateful beyond measure. And I am clearer than ever that as I have become more real and genuine so have my connections.

These few diamonds are forever. I pray that I will add sparkle, durability, and sustainability to their lives as well. Our love will outlast time. And our challenges only add more beauty to our shared experience. Because that is the truth of diamonds. And that is the truth of my few priceless gems I call friends.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022


We are better than this.

Clearly not.

I have heard the declarative statement with which I begin this missive any number of times in just the past two years. No matter how many times I see or hear it the assessment continues to give me pause.

We are better than this.

In order to concur with this perception, I need to do some serious internal massaging. I have seen some really bad behavior in these many months of pandemic. Racially. Socially. Politically. Medically. Individually and collectively. Some really, really bad behavior.

I watch repeated examples of bad behavior and I hear the characterization that we are better than this.

So, if we are better than this than why are we behaving so badly?

I wholeheartedly agree that our potential is better than the bad behavior being exhibited. I also strongly believe that difficult times bring out either the best or the worst of our human nature. Each and everyone of us has the potential to shine brightly or to project strong and corrosive shadows. I am sure you have witnessed this in action whether or not you would frame it the way that I am. It is easier for me to see the scope of human behavior as evidence that indeed, we are better than this. And I am seeing how different individuals react very differently to the same outer circumstances. A pandemic has ravaged our world for nearly two years. Countless people have showed up courageously, selflessly, heroically in ways that have humbled and inspired me. There seem to be an almost equal number of people who have reacted to the collective tragedy with self-interest, indifference, and rebellious or righteous contributions that have left me seriously questioning whether or not we are really better than the behaviors are indicating.

One if the myriad gifts of these observations is that I really do want to show up as my best self. I want to be better than so many of the objectional behaviors I am seeing. I pray to understand how and why people react at their worst. I seek to emulate those who become stronger, more resilient when facing individual and collective challenges. I dedicate myself to living and giving and loving fuller out during these very trying times.

I want to be able to not say but to consistently demonstrate we are indeed better than this and this is what it looks like.

While it is frequently minimized hope is a superpower in difficult times. And I remain hopeful. I am hopeful that at the level of our potential we are indeed better than this unskillful and unfortunate behavior. I know deeply that belief fuels behavior, so beliefs must be changed in order to make any substantial change in how people act. Even while I question the validity of the notion that people are better than the behaviors they are exhibiting I hold hope that it will become a lived reality. I allow myself to learn from what I have been seeing. I learn from aversion, and I learn from inspiration. I am more than willing to see people as better than their behaviors. I am willing to lend compassionate response when I see what appears to be the worst in people’s attitudes and actions.

I am willing and even passionate about allowing the worst in others to bring out the best in me.

I guess I really do hold a hopeful place in my heart that we are indeed better than the ways we sometimes show up. I know contrast to be a diligent teacher. These times of collective darkness have been a perfect context for a demonstration of the light. That light has shined forth as the best of human potential. Those demonstrations continually give me hope. They repeatedly motivate me to be more. To respond with more understanding, compassion, tenderness.

The bad behavior I see is bringing out the best in me. And for that I am deeply grateful.