My Personal Response to “Beneath Our Wings”/A Personal Take on “Three Cups of Tea”

Originally posted on Facebook on October 11, 2010:

RELATIONSHIPS: WE humans desire to have them and to hold them close to our hearts from the very beginning since we were all infants. Our parents, our friends, our teachers and someday our spouses. Don’t get me wrong. Relationships are so important in this human experience that each of us calls life on Earth. Yet, at the same time, it’s so strange to ever ponder the thought, “I’m going to college someday. That means I’ll have to leave my family and friends behind. Will I miss them, and more importantly, will they miss me?”

I wouldn’t know if any of you are currently thinking the same thought, but I do know that I am. “What will happen to all of these people that I once knew in my life, and then one day, I’m expected to just suddenly move on and get to know new people and forget my old friends?” I mean, seriously. How many of us here want to do that? Well, I’ll give you the honest answer. Nobody.

I will admit this. It is hard to move on and not think about your family and all those friends you’ve known since elementary school, the friends that grew up in your neighbohood and whom you’ve had bonding moments together. But we are expected to do it; and yet at the same time, it may be one of the hardest things that we all have to go through as we transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood (and by adulthood, I mean approximately 20 years and older).

But let me say this: I do believe in a strong, central philosophy that embodies the human spirit of friendship and the meaning of having close friends and family. Just like what Austin Jackson’s character states in Beneath Our Wings, people will always come and go in this life. The people that you’ve known since elementary school will have well moved on to different places and to different working and living environments. Well guess what? Each and every one of you currently reading this article (myself included) have also moved on in life since our elementary school days. I know many of my former close friends from my old elementary school who have moved on in life and now they’re high school seniors at Irvington High School or even at places like Foothill High School in Pleasanton or even elsewhere. Just for the heck of it, I also know many former MSJ classmates who have gone off to college all across the state and all across the country.

My point? My point is still very simple and very tangible to comprehend. Although many people that you will know today will not be with you forever in this lifetime, it is still important to treasure the most valuable friendships that stay with you for an actual lifetime. I’m talking about those people that do matter to you, those people that you love so much that you’ll reserve a place for each and every one of them in your heart. If you (yes, you) care about people like I do, you’ll treat your best buddies as extended members of your biological and spiritual family. These people are your family members ! Try and contemplate that! I mean, really!

How many of your bestest buddies are that close to you? Try to name some, and I mean really give it a shot. How many of your best buddies would you wholeheartedly trust to protect you and vice versa? Really, really think about it.

Are the friends that you know today just simple comers-and-goers, just ordinary classmates and coworkers or do you have a deeper and closer connection with certain people? If you do, these friends could be your friends for life. It’s very possible.

This is why I believe in my own philosophy of having close friendships, which by the way, is very similar to an old Balti proverb as described in the book Three Cups of Tea :

When I make a friend, he or she is first just an acquaintance to me. The more and more I greet, meet, and converse with this person, the deeper our connection grows. Picture a friendship as a young sapling slowly growing and developing over time into a large pine tree. When a person first plants the sapling, it is your first connection with somebody, let’s say some classmate you just met at school or some stranger you ran into on the street. At first, you may just exchange a simple gesture and maybe introduce each other’s names and that’s just it.

But now, watch the sapling grow. As it continues to grow taller above the soil, its roots sprout deeper and deeper into the ground. As the sapling starts to take the form of a tiny pine tree and as the roots continue to soak up nutrients and water from the soil, so does the friendship. Over time as the tree matures and the roots are now well rooted in the soil, your “friendship tree” has become a “family tree.”

~ Josh Chen (1992-)    

~ A Fellow Columnist, Josh Chen.

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