Yo Peeps! Welcome to The Vibrant Life Podcast where each week we take a look at ways to live life out loud, in color, and on purpose. My name is Emily Romrell and this is Episode 5: Kindred Spirits. This week I want to focus on the people in our lives, the difference they make, and how to seek out and find more and more wonderful relationships along the way.
C. S. Lewis is a hero of mine, and in my opinion he was one of the greatest thinkers and writers of the twentieth century. The Chronicles of Narnia was probably the first book series that I fell heart and soul in love with as a child. And as and adult, I’ve become attached to his other writings almost as much. He was a true academic and I am fascinated by the way he reaches profound conclusions about God, Love, and Relationships through reasoning things out logically in his mind.
In his very short book called “The Four Loves”, Lewis uses this process of thought experiments to discover the nature of Love. Like I said before Lewis is an academic, so the book is deep and can be difficult to read, but if you give it a chance it could change your life. He goes through four main types: Storge or familial love like that of a parent and child, Philia the love of true friendship, Eros which is romantic love, and Agape or the unconditional love of God.
Each type of love is significant in its own way, but the love I want to talk about today is the second one in Lewis’s quartet: Friendship. According to Lewis, Friendship is a higher level of love because it is something we choose that isn’t absolutely necessary for survival. He goes on to explain that “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” I couldn’t say it any better myself.
As a teenager, I read the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maude Montgomery.
(Quick side note here, I think we will all have to face the fact right now that many of the points I make on this podcast will come from the books I’ve read. That’s just the kind of person I am, and I heartily believe the maxim that you are what you read.)
Anyway I read the Anne of Green Gables books, and I became captivated with the notion of finding “Kindred Spirits” Anne is an orphan and the beginning of her life is painfully void of true friends or “Kindred Spirits.” But as she is adopted by the Cuthberts and makes friends with the people in the small town of Avonlea she finds out that they aren’t as rare as she once thought. In fact some of the most crotchety and unlikeable people in the stories become her best friends.
Let’s talk about first impressions. Everyone talks about how important they are, and it’s true. We make judgements about people whether we meet them in the grocery store, at a job interview, or if their sitting next to us in church. We glance at people and because of the clothes they wear or the kind of work they do, we think we know them.
I get pretty annoyed at this, even though I do it myself, because every first impression I’ve had of someone has been such a pale representation of who they really are. Lots of times my ideas about a person have been flat out wrong. But even if my estimation of person is somewhat correct, after I take the time to get to know them I realize how rich and complex and how HUMAN they are. I find myself thinking, “Wow, why didn’t I see this amazing quality about this person before?”
I’ll tell you why I didn’t notice. It’s because I wasn’t paying attention. I was too focused on my own needs or expectations of how our relationship was supposed to play out, that I didn’t see the potential of what a relationship with that person could be.
I’m ashamed to admit that in the past I’ve concluded someone was just another sports jock, or a nerd, or a sales guy only to have those same people surprise me with real conversations about life. I shared some special moments with people that to me at first seemed superficial. I guess that shows us who the superficial person really was.
There’s a fantastic quote in the classic Sci-Fi story “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card. It goes like this: “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.”
In other words, when you take the time to really know somebody, you will recognize parts of yourself in them and say, “What, you too? I thought I was the only one.” Life gets so busy, and we forget how truly connected we all are with each other. That is the great and wonderful paradox of the human race. We are all so uniquely individually special, and yet we are all so much the same.
According to dictionary.com a Kindred Spirit is a person who shares beliefs, attitudes, feelings, or features with another; also called kindred soul. It’s easy to see the common traits shared with people who like the same music as us, or who root for the same sports team. Those are the easy friendships. And just because those friendships start more easily doesn’t mean that they aren’t meaningful.
But when you think about the best friends or most kindred spirits of your life, you realize that these are the people that you can really share a piece of your soul with. The people to which you show the most vulnerable parts of yourself, and then they pull out a bit of their soul to show you and say, “You too? I thought I was the only one.”.
I guess what I am trying to say in this podcast is more of a question than a statement. That question is this. When you look at other people what are you going to see? How closely are you willing to look? Because if you’re willing to look with an open heart, you are likely to see a reflection of yourself. You are likely to find a kindred spirit who can make a difference in your life, and whose life you can impact just as much. Then we will all be living the vibrant life together.
Thanks so much for listening. It means a lot that you would take a little time out of your day to spend with me. Please visit the website VibrantLifePodcast.com for past episodes and comments are always welcome. Episode 6: Go with Gusto will air on February 29th 2016. My name is Emily Romrell. Have a fabulous week, and don’t forget to Live The Vibrant Life.