A friend has given me the next best thing to friendship itself—a story I’ll never forget. Whether the tale is true literally I can’t say, nor do I care. Whenever something invites my heart to jitterbug with the moon all other considerations vanish.
In one African tribe, when a woman becomes aware of her intention to conceive a child with a particular father, the mother goes alone to a secluded place and listens until she can hear within herself the song of the child she hopes to conceive.
The soul of every person vibrates in sound with its own unique expression of purpose—how we intend for our life lessons to help us become a foole for love: the reason we exist, saints tell us.
The trick upon birth is remembering this song in the face of the Ego Marching Band: countless monkeys in nightcaps whacking empty pots to get our attention.
Choose the familiar of fear, they screech; beware the bottomless ocean of possibility.
Once the woman has heard the song of the soul with whom she resonates, she teaches it to the father.
Together they sing it as they make love, inviting the child to join them.
After conception, the child floats in the echo of its essence, as the mother’s breath and blood carry within them the sacred music of the beloved in her womb. She also teaches its song to the women and midwives of her village. During labor and delivery, the child is held in the embrace of its own soul’s song.
Soon the entire tribe can sing it.
Rounding the birthbed, the community welcomes their new member…with its song.
This practice of remembering is repeated on such occasions as when the child begins school, is initiated into adulthood and when he or she is about to be married.
And so it happens should the person ever participate in some socially destructive act, such as a crime. A circle of tribe members forms around the beloved—and from all directions the person hears the song of their soul’s intention in harmony with the call of the universe to make every experience a bridge to understanding.
At the end of life, when the spirit of this being is ready to leave its birth body behind, the community gathers at the deathbed to sing the soul’s anthem in farewell.
Of all the forms of friendship we can offer one another, is any more meaningful than the encouragement to discover and listen to the song of our soul?
After all, it is a song that never asks us to be small, to hate, to blame, to judge, to feel inadequate. It asks only that we remember who we really are—a being a pearl wishes it could become, says Rumi—and act accordingly. Be outrageous. Love it all.
Blindfolded poker can seem a snap by comparison. Which is why we need all the friends we can get.
Beginning with…you know who.
Here’s a quote I stole somewhere: A friend is someone who sees right through us, and enjoys the view.