As I’ve noted in previous posts, I have transitioned to a new career in the Alberta public service in the last 5 months. In so doing, one of my new (and beloved) colleagues, Julie, recently informed me that I looked “transformed”. I could not help (because I am by my nature an “A” type personality and also a former defence lawyer for insurers) but reflect on these comments (as it turns out below, in a good way).
Transformation quite literally means change. The Oxford dictionary defines it as: “making a marked change in the form, nature, or appearance of…”
I came to realize that my colleague saw in me something that I had not seen in many years. She saw me genuinely smiling at work, as though I’d found my wheelhouse and was completely content with the world around me.
Indeed, I was smiling, because for the first time in years I truly felt happy and at peace that this was where I was meant to carve out the next path in my trajectory.
When I reflect on this further, I feel grateful for the inspiring and care-free friendship I have formed with Julie, someone I’ve only know a short while, but whose energy and passion abounds, and someone I know cares for me unconditionally.
It’s funny, Julie’s spirit reminds me so much of Jenn, one of my dearest friends I’ve known for nearly 16 years. We have been in touch with each other all these years – me attending her beautiful wedding in Saskatoon as an usher, she coming to Edmonton to attend my call to the Alberta Bar (and a reunion with other mutual friends in the Rockies to name a few examples) – always with the feeling of ease between us when we got together to catch up and check in on each other’s busy lives. I’m grateful that despite the passage of time, the bond of friendship has never been broken between us, and that she too, cares for me unconditionally. Jenn, too, has noticed a change in me – for the good – and I as well in her (as she has also transitioned into a new career around the time I did).
“…what I have come to learn is that the measure of a true and genuine friendship is whether one friend will be there not only to pick up the other friend who has fallen down, but to endure the pain along with her to lift the burden that has been placed on her shoulders.
In thinking about Jenn and Julie, I am also grateful for the friendship that I have with one of my closest male friends, Gurinder, who lives on the other side of Canada in Ontario. I’ve known Gurinder as long as I’ve known Jenn. In fact, we all met at the same summer camp in Thunder Bay, Ontario, in 1999. Over the years, Inder and I have managed to keep in touch despite our busy schedules – he as a busy physician in Ottawa, and I as a busy litigator in Edmonton. In recent years, we formed a pact to “see the world” together by allocating a few weeks out of the year to travel abroad and soak in different countries, cultures, languages and traditions. So far, we’ve travelled to Maui, Sedona, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston and the Grand Canyon. I look forward every year to embarking on the next chapter of our world travels together. This spring it’s off to San Diego (where I’ve signed up for a 10K run), and then in the fall, we’re heading to Malaysia. Having just returned from Sedona at the beginning of January feeling completely rejuvenated and alive – indeed, transformed – I just can’t wait for these upcoming travels to carry on with my transformation to become the happiest and healthiest version of myself.
I know, however, I cannot achieve either of these two things without the support and unconditional love of my family and those who have become – and will become – my closest friends in life. I am mindful that even the most long-standing and enduring friendships encounter periods of rough patches, disagreements and arguments. While such disagreements might well end some friendships, what I have come to learn is that the measure of a true and genuine friendship is whether one friend will be there not only to pick up the other friend who has fallen down, but to endure the pain along with her to lift the burden that has been placed on her shoulders. In this way, the bonds of friendship can and do represent the strongest of all human relationships.
Jenn said to me over lunch not that long ago that there are three types of friends in life: friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for a lifetime.
At this juncture in my trajectory, Jenn’s message resonates with me. It’s not that one kind of friend is more important than another. Rather, Jenn was communicating to me that it’s about the capacity in each of us to recognize the gifts and talents of those who come into our lives – even for just a fleeting moment – and the indelible mark they can leave on our lives. That mark may be for a reason, for a season, or for a lifetime.
As I continue my path of personal transformation, I will be ever mindful of Jenn’s message and grateful for the friends I’m blessed to have in my life.
I wish you all love, happiness, and peace. Namaste.