I was fortunate to meet Terry about 18 months ago, at a Mr. Perfect BBQ Meetup. He’s since become a trusted friend.
Now I’m going to digress for a moment, so please bear with me.
That wasn’t easy to write, for I haven’t considered that I have ‘friends’ like other people seem to have. I envy those who have people just ‘drop in’ to their place. Or get calls to catch up. I’m the one doing all the calling. No one has ever ‘dropped in’ to my place.
For me, cut off and almost completely socially isolated 18 months ago, maybe someone like Terry became a friend. We have no idea where the other lives, let alone visited one another. I’ve seen him less than 10 times since I met him, and I’ve met his wife once. Yet every time we meet, talk, message or text, we seem to be genuine in our interest in each others wellbeing. There’s trust there, from my end anyway. I think I’ll know him much longer than old work acquaintances. Our mutual encouragement, honesty, and our empathy, certainly make me feel as though he’s a friend. We’ve shared intimate stuff. Maybe for me, that’s what a friend is.
Now, back to this post.
Terry has been the driving force behind the humble yet successful Meetup group Mr. Perfect. It’s tagline is ‘Mental Health’s Mate’. A monthly BBQ where a bunch of blokes meet for a couple of hours, hang out and chat if you want to. No pressure. The name, if you hadn’t guessed, is a nod to the ‘mask of perfection’ that many men feel they must wear in today’s society. Particularly the workplace. The BBQ is a chance to take the mask off.
In a very short space of time, the Meetups have grown from just the one, to seven or eight including interstate. They’re now a registered charity – no mean feat. The group has been good for me, to me, and I’ve even been able to give back.
Below is a link to a recent blog post. Terry’s incredible depth of honesty is on powerful display here. The unique ability to see yourself from a third party perspective is hard enough, but to do so and then be able to begin assessing not just your own behaviour, but the drivers of that behaviour, is remarkable. It’s hard enough to even find the words to write about it!
I relate to Terry’s overflowing empathy. I too find myself tearing up these days more than ever, noticing the big and small acts of love and kindness that surround me in ordinary everyday life. I want those moments for myself sometimes. I haven’t yet begun to understand all of my motives for my growing empathy. I do believe empathy is healthy.
I also relate to that feeling of being with others, seeing joy, fun, adventure and happiness, and even being engaged with others in that. Yet somehow I can approach my feelings about it from such a low place that I feel I don’t deserve this, that it will all end for me. Having to climb out of my personal black hole to view the pleasant things in my life makes for a less than ideal starting point. My experience depends on how far down the hole I start from. Acceptance has seen me on more solid ground of late.
But enough from me. BTW, I do have some other friends.
Please read Terry’s blog post ‘Empathy Ocean’. It’s really good.
Enjoy it, cry, feel, empathise….then follow . Click the link:
I have a few friends. Not many. How many true friends do you have? How's your sense of empathy? Is it valuable to you? How have you instilled empathy in your children?