6th grade English, Mrs Dudley’s class. The desks are set up in a double horseshoe, and I’m on one end of the inner row. The class is brainstorming ideas we can write about in our essay/journal notebooks throughout the year. The kid sitting next to me raises his hand over and over, much more than anyone else, spouting out idea after idea. Some are variations of ideas already suggested, some are completely original.
Then, in one of the brief moments when he isn’t raising his hand (and when the teacher isn’t looking), he whispers to me “Do you want a Tic Tac?” He offers me some wintergreen Tic Tacs under the cover of his desk. I hold out my hand, he and dumps several into my palm. I manage to eat them without getting caught, and a few minutes after they are gone, he offers me some more. Meanwhile, he is continuing to raise his hand, and offering suggestion after suggestion on essay topics.
I’m thinking to myself “Who is this guy?”
His name is Robert. When I first met him, he went by Bobby. Now he prefers Bob. Whatever name he wants to be called, he’s been my best friend since that first day in 6th grade English.
We weren’t the type of friends that did absolutely everything together. He had hobbies that I didn’t share, and I had mine. He was into wrestling – WWE style (it was WWF back in those days), Nascar racing, baseball and baseball cards, and many other things.
I had Boy Scouts, hiking and camping, rock climbing, science fiction and fantasy stories, and role-playing games, among others.
We did however, have quite a lot in common. Imagination for one, and a knack for crazy creativity.
We recorded our own “radio show” onto cassette tapes, we composed music on his computer, wrote the most insane stories, filmed crazy skits, and had more than our fair share of inside jokes. And that’s barely scratching the surface.
Now, why do I say Bob is a remarkable person? Just because he’s my friend? I suppose I am a little biased, but no, that’s not the only reason.
Bob is remarkable because he is passionate, especially when it comes to family and friends. He feels deeply toward just about everyone he meets. If he doesn’t like someone, he really doesn’t like them, and usually for good reason. If he likes someone, he will be their friend forever.
Here’s the remarkable thing that I want to point out – if Bob doesn’t like someone, he doesn’t waste time and energy making fun of them, or gossiping about them, or trying to make them change who they are. He will simply avoid them and avoid talking about them. He spends his time and energy with the people he loves, doing the things he likes to do.
Bob is a remarkable person, and just about the entire world could benefit from taking a lesson or two from Bob’s book, particularly not wasting time and energy gossiping or talking bad about people he doesn’t like. Focus on the good things in your life, not the bad.
Imagine what the world would be like if people didn’t gossip, make fun of, or try to destroy people or things they didn’t like, just because those people or things don’t coincide with their view of what the world should be.
I’m not saying we should all become apathetic pacifists, and never try to change anything in the world. I’m saying try to imagine a world without bullying or hate crimes. Imagine a world without racism, sexism, or homophobia. Imagine if people judged by their words and actions, not by what they look like, who their parents were, who they hang out with or date, or how much money they have. Imagine politics that focuses on policy rather than mud-slinging or party line grandstanding.
The world wouldn’t be perfect, but we’d be in a much better position to work together to finally resolve some of those other problems.
Oh, and by the way, neither of us have grown out of our crazy creativity. We are still collaborating together on various projects, in various stages of completion.