I have a friend named Lydia. She is a single mom with one child and works 30 hours per week as a bank teller. She describes her occupation as a “Brother Lawrence” job, where she has vowed to contribute the highest quality she has to her work – not to impress her boss, but to satisfy herself. She very much wants all the areas of her life to be consistent, hence work would be no different. Her philosophy is she doesn’t cheat her friends so why would she cheat her employer by showing up late or using company time for personal things like checking Facebook or doing personal chores? Her decision not to cheat is held within, she explains, so wherever she goes that value goes with her. Brother Lawrence held similar views working in a hospital diet kitchen in France a few centuries ago. More about all that later.
Lydia is unique. She stands out. She is not like everyone else. The honesty thing is really only a small portion of what makes her unique, unless you consider looking someone in the eye while conversing as a form of honesty. Or perhaps your definition of assertiveness also falls into that category. To me, the most attractive characteristic of Lydia is her confidence. She is not wealthy, she does not hold impressive college degrees and is not gifted with popular charisma… well, that depends on how you define charisma. If you include generosity, or superior listening skills, or attentiveness, focus and non-judgmental acceptance among your list of human giftings then, yes, she does have charisma!
The most unforgettable of all my friend’s characteristics is her ability and habit of being present. When you are with her, you will not hear resentments from the past. You won’t hear any gossip, and the topics she brings up will not reflect worry about things that might happen in the future. Lydia behaves as if the present moment is life and she’s grateful for it.
Other friends, also respected and enjoyed, do not seem to have reached the same place in life. Lydia would not want to be compared to them, but with just that much license I want to address the topic of human and social evolution. Lydia really does stand out, and in so doing anyone observing her would conclude that she is very content with who she is and with the values she embraces. People who interact with her, especially those who interact often, find her refreshingly pleasing. She does not appear overbearing or superior. Quite the contrary she “wears well” over time; people don’t tire from being around her and are rarely if ever annoyed by her actions or words.
Her story follows here in the coming weeks. I wonder if she is leading the folks in her sphere of influence, and ultimately beyond to their spheres of influence, to a better way.