If you are of the double-X persuasion, I know that you have received "those" emails. You know the ones of which I speak. The sappy shit that looks like it plunged straight off of a Hallmark card and into your inbox. They pontificate about sisterhood and stressless friendships, and couch the whole message in a backdrop of hearts, flowers and purple squiggles. They implore you to immediately hit the FORWARD key so that every other female in your address book can also experience the nauseous wave of sugary platitudes. Sorry folks. It just isn't that easy. Friendships and real relationships take time, stress, sweat, pain, and copious amounts of work. Sometimes they can be taxing, but just as often they can be wondrous.
I am at my core a basically shy and reserved person. I know that sounds somewhat paradoxical for those who see me on a bimah or in front of an audience, but it is true. I find I tend to retreat into that which I know is safe and comfortable, and I often balk at the new, unknown and potentially frightening. It is the same with new relationships. I have been fortunate that my friendships have been enduring and have strengthened over many years. Newness and new people make me markedly uncomfortable, so it was with great trepidation that I agreed to perform several years ago with a group of colleagues at the Kol Isha concert. My impressions of that experience have been well documented. It was one of those unique times in life when one actually makes it to the top of the mountain and lives to tell the tale. We were a tight, cohesive group of diverse women who loved, laughed and made beautiful music together, but when it was over we all returned to our lives and careers, with occasional stopovers to inquire as to each other's well-being. It was a remarkable adventure that I believed could not be duplicated. So, it was with my default trepidation firmly intact that I headed back into rehearsals with my singing sisters last month for another stab at Everest. We were warmly invited to perform our concert in another community and we knew that we just couldn't decline.
As we gathered last month to renew our relationships and to engage in our musical diversities, something interesting began to take shape for me. The music was there, rusty and in desperate need of rehearsal for certain, but I noticed that we had become more involved with each other as people. We revelled in each other's professional milestones and accomplishments. We glowed with pride at the families that were celebrating lifecycle events, and we came together as a tightly knit group to deal with adversity. We bonded over dietary restrictions, banana bread and chocolate. We laughed at each other's insecurities and we supported each other with less formality and much more gentle teasing. In short, we worked together not merely as colleagues. We had become friends.
It occurs to me that children make friends very easily. Anybody who has ever dropped their youngster off for the first day of kindergarten is truly amazed at how quickly ties and bonds are formed. Adults? Not so much. As we age, we tend to put up artificial barriers that inhibit the formation of new friendships. We tend look for reasons to "opt out". I am truly in awe of those who make friends easily. I wish that I had the grace and ease of conversation that facilitates new relationships. I wish that I didn't come off as aloof or insular; both of which are defence mechanisms installed to keep me safe. Instead, I will content myself with the karmic nature of the universe that brought these remarkable women into my life and I can only hope that they feel an iota towards me as I do towards them.
Women need other women in their lives. We need to feed off of the strength and uniqueness of experience that only we can provide. No offence, guys. There are just some things that are truly female. Greeting card platitudes cannot define us or our relationships. Only we can do that. I would like to offer up one of my own. Simply stated-Get down and sing! It is truly bridge building!