Your Friends Who Round You Out

I have a best friend named Aaron, who travelled the world to find himself. He used to run PR for major NY entertainment clients in a 9–5 job he dreamed of having, until the reality proved a waking nightmare. So he invested early in Bitcoin, did well enough to quit his job, and travelled for years to Bali and India to learn about himself. Along the way, he developed a passion for the Tama-Do school of sound healing and studied with the master of the movement, Fabian Maman, in Switzerland. He spent months all by himself, cultivating intimacy with his mind and heart and fears and intuition. He repaved his path in life, and his journey inspired me to seek my own way. I left my steady job in 2016 to freelance as a teacher, writer, and performer, engaging in my own solo odyssey into the unknown.

Now, Aaron and I are meeting again in the first month of 2018, both of us living in LA for a few months. We are meeting on the other side of our solo journeys, changed people and yet still the same deep down.

Aaron is process-driven to his core, centered in the daily experience of life, to the extent where he doesn’t practice or share his sound healing gift, hesitant to do so until his gift is ready.

I am product-driven, centered in the daily grind of making moves to get to the next rung of some imaginary ladder, counting my wins and losses. But I’m out there, sharing the work I make, hustling my ass off, hosting free workshops to market myself and selling out my paid classes off the bounce in interest.

We naturally have a lot to learn from one-another.

A best friend loves you for your weaknesses, for your failures, for your bad habits. It’s not even that they love you despite these things— they can see your shortcomings clearly and want to help bridge you to the side you can’t reach on your own.

For whatever reason, I hate cuddling. I can be cut and dry about certain forms of intimacy, and either I want to cuddle with someone I’m sexually attracted to, or I want to lie down in my own space— thank you, very much. Aaron gets me to cuddle. He encourages me to push my boundaries — by doing something as simple and stupid and human as cuddling together. To let go of my black and white boundaries and and color outside my comfort zone.

And in return, I tell him (while cuddling, out of revenge, I’m sure) that I straight up think he’s letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. He can train and take classes from all the Tama-Do masters of the world, but it’s no good to keep learning without applying what he has learned via actual practice. I say I think it’s selfish to not share his gift with the world — even while he’s in process of learning it — because people need what he has to offer in LA, right now. I know because I’m one of the few people he’s worked with here, and he has a real gift. But trial and error is the only way he will ever become a master teacher.

By the end of our cuddling session, I get him to commit to offering a free/donation workshop. He doesn’t want to market his classes; he feels it’s gross to blast it out on Facebook and the like. But we agree he will curate and invite an email list of friends and people he think would appreciate the healing. We nail down a date, and Aaron lets me escape from cuddling hell.

We spent the rest of the day doing nothing. We drove to Santa Monica, using Waze to avoid most traffic. We ate salads at an overpriced ocean-side diner. I brought my laptop for God-Knows-What reason but satisfied my need to be productive by sending out some emails for my upcoming solo show in LA. Aaron stripped to his boxers and jumped in the Pacific Ocean, despite it being “LA-Freezing” outside (60 degrees). I took off my shoes and walked in up to my knees. We ran back to the car and cranked the Prius’ heater up to max. We drove around aimlessly listening to audio of YouTube clips of Newscaster Bloopers. We went to three different stores in a hopeless persuit to find the composite video cords to repair his roommate’s DVD player (heads up: only Best Buy still carries this outdated technology). We bought the last carton of eggs at a Super Target and improvised a song, bragging about our luck in the check-out lane. We went to an evening Kundalini Yoga class my friend was hosting and ate Pho afterwards. We watched a SAG screener of Lady Bird. We went to bed.

Today, I woke up excited to get back to work on my projects after having spent time with Aaron to just play and exist. I relished the idea of working instead of coming at it from a place of feeling behind the curve because I didn’t “succeed” yesterday. I needed the giggles and glee I experienced with Aaron to remember that I’m a human-being, meant to enjoy my day-day experience on this Earth. That I don’t have to beat myself up because every day isn’t more productive than the last. That’s a losing game and a depressing feeling to wake up to each day.

Aaron rounds me out. He organically gets me to live in the moment, and I help give him the push to produce his art. Together, we form a more complete person.

I spent 2017 working mostly on my own. I ended the year having made a living successfully in the arts but feeling lonely and exhausted. I was caught up daily in my worst, self-sustainting, negative habits — without outside feedback and encouragement to stretch my limits.

I want to make 2018 the year I focus on collaboration and community. I want to grow from being intimate and close with others. I know I’ll need time by myself as well, to reflect and write things like this story — to work on my art in solitude. But I believe we grow most in the presence of friends who round us out. Who gently get us to touch what scares us and bit-by-bit stretch into who we want to become. It’s too overwhelming to do on my own, but I can commit to spending time with all the friends in my life who bring out the best in me.