I was reading an emailed interview of one of my friend/colleagues had done by a magazine. (He was gracious enough to send me the transcript.) It was early morning (for me) and I was still laying in bed.

The subject was his recent trip with his jazz band to Iran. The interview dealt with logistics, some politics and mostly the cultural exchanges. The feelings I got while reading his words came to me gradually. First, I was curious, knowing somewhat of his trip already but wanting to know more thanks to this thorough article. Gradually, I felt my body become more and more relaxed, and a general feeling of contentment washed over me as I reflected on his words of compassion, openness, generosity and honesty (along with some acute social criticism). I also felt warm feelings of hope, hope that something real had occurred, a definite sharing between worlds that made “sense,” emotionally as well as in other ways.

What his words did for me was to not only inspire me about what people can do to help promote understanding and peace between different cultures, but it also not surprisingly deepened our friendship. I chose to return the energy, completing a circle by letting him know in a followup email how his trip and the story he told in the interview had such a positive impact on me, the beauty of what he and his band did–and all the people from Iran he/they worked with and came in contact with–reaching me in waves of gratitude (not exact words, but to that effect) as the morning continued.

I learned that I too can respond to the excellence in others, and that praise is so easy to give when you come into contact with such wonderful and amazing stories of real people with real experiences to share. My friend knows I love him, because I have told him so. Here is one more “reason” why.

As cynical as we both can be about living in 21st century America, this experience helps to melt away some of that icy wall I maintain between me and everything and everyone else, that destructive, ill-fated illusion of duality.

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