Nourishing Friends

The graphic designer Milton Glaser once said,

There was in the sixties a [gestalt therapist] named Fritz Perls who … proposed that in all relationships people could be either toxic or nourishing towards one another. It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them.

Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much, but at the end of that time, you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired, then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy, you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.

My friend Dan has to be one of the most nourishing friends there is.

Dan and Diana, 2006

I was fortunate enough to be a stop on his 10-city, three-week tour of the Midwest. When he arrived yesterday evening, he walked in and just started talking, as if we were continuing a conversation from his last visit, or from a few minutes before.

He’s a sponge in many ways, and he’s anxious to share what he’s learned, whether it’s A History Of The World In Six Glasses or studies cited by PETA about milk, or sharing his experience of conducting a 20th century piece about WWI.

Di and Dan, DCI 1997I’ve known Dan longer than I’ve known my own husband, although I’ve spent considerably less time with Dan in the past ten years. We met in drum corps, back in early 1995, and he’s been one of the few people from corps that I’ve kept in touch with consistently over the years.

Used to be that we’d spend time on Instant Messenger, talking (typing?) about his girlfriend or the latest technology he’d learned about (.NET was a big one) or any number of topics. Nowadays, we keep up with one another’s blogs, comment on them, and occasionally trade Facebook messsages or emails. We’re fairly well in touch with each other… but nothing compares to being there. Physically. Learning about what Dan’s been up to while discovering things about myself, as well. Having a philosophical discussion about happiness. Me feeling slightly lame for parroting Zen teachings to him, and him pointing out that parroting is an important step in true learning.

To anyone else, he’s one of those weird music professor-types that 19-year-old girls swoon over, someone who really gets excessively philosophical and might even come off as arrogant.

To me, he’s still Dan. And he’s one of my very few True Friends.

Thanks, Dan, for making me part of Book Tour 2009. 😀