Thursday, August 13, 2009

Come Together

Life is full of surprises, and every now and again, new people stroll in without notice providing an unexpected but welcome breath of fresh air.

One evening a few weeks ago, one such person literally appeared on our doorstep. Filippo, a young Italian doctor completing his residency at The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center had just recently moved into our area. Earlier that night a neighbor had told Filippo another Italian lived close by, inspiring Filippo to walk over and knock on our door.

What began as a friendly chat quickly turned into a plan for a casual Italian dinner party. To welcome Filippo to Seattle, we invited a few more Italians for a total of ten guests. The meal was a mélange of Italian and English, with conversations alternating between the two languages in an easy flow. Everyone stayed until one in the morning. Italians do love to talk. When it was finally time to say goodnight, cheeks were kissed and it was unanimously agreed that we would all meet again soon.

Delight is not so hard to come by. One of the easiest ways to cultivate it is to invite new people into your life. Especially in mid-life, when we’ve settled into our families’ routines and rhythms, our circle of friends closes in and shrinks down. However, when we make that extra effort to reach out and include someone new (because it does take a concerted effort to do this), especially if that person is from another culture, the benefits are well worth our while.

Interacting with someone new is such a wonderful opportunity. We're able to see the world from a fresh perspective and mull over issues and ideas that wouldn't occur to us otherwise. Spending time with someone new also inspires us be better and different versions of ourselves. The foreign energy feels invigorating.

So, as the saying goes, make new friends, but keep the old.

…and introduce them to each other!

*Photo courtesy of NextUp

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