My Anam Cara
“In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul-love; the old Gaelic term for this is anam cara. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and cara is the word for friend. So anam cara in the Celtic world was the “soul friend.” - David Whyte
I was lucky enough to visit my “aman cara” last week in Tucson, Arizona where she lives with her husband. We met serendipitously twenty-five years ago in the elevator at the downtown garment center in LA where we both worked. I had just moved out to the west coast was looking for a place to live. She was looking for a roommate. From our first conversation in that elevator it felt more like being reunited, than like meeting someone new. Home was a bungalow apartment across the street from the Pacific Ocean in Manhattan Beach. We were both just kids; struggling to find our paths in our fledgling careers, going to too many parties, wiping each other’s tears after failed romances and life’s uncertainties, sharing dreams, fears, hopes, sea breezes and cigarettes on the front porch.
Your aman cara knows you better than you know yourself. She (or he) knows where you have been, understands where you are, and with eerie clairvoyance sees where you are going. She accepts you just as you are, the light and the dark. She knows you from the inside out. She tells you the truth, no matter how hard it may be to hear. She awakens something in you, and reminds you of your unbroken potential and possibility. She holds a sacred space for you that feels like home. You can tell her your most innermost thoughts, dreams and fears. You are understood without mask or pretense. There is no time, there is no space between you and your conversations. And most important she reminds you of your own radiant beauty.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of our beauty. Sometimes we need to be able to see ourselves with someone else’s sight. Sometimes we need a shelter in which to rest our soul during life’s journey. When a relationship is nourishing, clear and healthy we can find a safe refuge for joy, healing and growth.
Be conscious of the relationships you find yourself in. Be present in those relationships. The people you surround yourself with are polishing cloths for your soul. Cherish and honor all of your relationships, even the one's that are challenging. Seek out good friends, and most importantly - be a good friend. Pause often, make time, listen well, speak from the heart, stay open, allow yourself to be wrong, stay up late and laugh until you cry, be patient, be forgiving, don’t judge, and hug generously - even if from a thousand miles away. It is so beautiful, so sacred - the connection our hearts feel in the presence of a true soul friend.