My dear friend, Maverick, is a generous listener.
Generous listening is powered by curiosity, a virtue we can invite and nurture in ourselves to render it instinctive. It involves a kind of vulnerability— a willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity. The listener wants to understand the humanity behind the words of the other, and patiently summons one’s own best self and one’s own best words and questions.Krista Tippett, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living
It’s a great feeling knowing that I can call Maverick every time I come up with a wild/new/novel idea and he would take me seriously. He’d listen intently and then repeat what I said back to me to make sure he fully understood me before offering up his perspective, encouragement, and questions. He’d usually say things like, “It’s tough, but I believe you can make it happen.” or “How can I help?” or “What would you like me to do?”
Most importantly, during the entire time we’ve been friends, I don’t remember him ever talking down to me, over me, or dismissing my views.
My dear friend Maverick is generous with his friendship. He’d been by my side at many of my most vulnerable moments. One of the most memorable happened around 2006, when a distant relative, Big Lili, was trying to bully me into paying my mother’s younger sister, Aunt Coffee’s hospital bill that Big Lili promised Aunt Coffee she would take care of.
To this day, I didn’t understand why I was such a coward to let myself get yelled at by Big Lili. She was someone I barely knew and maybe spent 20 hours in their company at most in my whole life. Yet I let her shame me into almost agreeing to pay for Aunt Coffee’s $10,000+ hospital bill.
Many years later, I still remember those words clearly. Big Lili called me useless. She said that if she were in my shoes and did not pay for Aunt Coffee’s medical bill, I should go buy a rope and hang myself. That I’m a loser who despite coming to New York at age six is so worthless that I was only able to get a job as a peon in an investment bank.
Big Lili went on and on, screaming at me and I stood there rooted to the spot. I remember very little of what happened other than calling Maverick for help. I knew Big Lili was scared of muscular men because her former husband used to hit her. And sure enough, when Maverick walked next to me, Big Lili stopped yelling.
My dear friend Maverick is too generous to family and friends, but he is not generous to himself. From the time we’ve been friends, I’ve often wondered why he was making other people happy at the expense of his own mental, physical, and financial wellbeing.
As our friendship deepened, I realized that though Maverick and I may have very different personalities, we share many similar experiences and problems. We both find it difficult to set and keep boundaries, express our thoughts verbally in a clear and concise manner, and have the courage to chase after our own goals because they seem so out there.
Being able to talk about those issues with Maverick was a huge relief because I felt he truly understood my struggles. Our ongoing conversations helped me (and I hope him as well) grow tremendously.
Set and keep boundaries? After talking about it extensively with Maverick and with the help of my therapist, I now set and keep boundaries with everyone including myself.
Express my thoughts verbally in a clear and concise manner? Working on it daily starting 1/1/2022. I listen to Debbie Millman, Krista Tippet, Elizabeth Gilbert, and TED speakers, pretty much every day for around an hour.
The courage to chase after my goal to become an author? Working on it daily beginning 12/26/2021. I write for at least two hours every day no matter what. The only exception is if I’m feeling too sick to get out of bed. Otherwise, I write.
Dear Maverick, thank you so much for being you and for being my friend! Please remember that I’m here to support, encourage, and cheer you on in your journey towards your goals. I believe that you can and you will once you decide to stop setting yourself on fire to keep other people warm. Love you lots!