My Friend’s Greatest Gift
From my earliest years, my family filled me with the belief that there is a God that, above all things, is love. This belief in a Supreme Intelligence who loved me beyond conception made me feel safe, happy and at peace.
I stood out for my natural ability in the arts, encouraged by a father who also loved to draw. But it never entered my mind to become an artist. “It’s a nice hobby, but not practical, and will never give you enough money to feed a family,” my loved ones would say whenever anyone commented on my abilities. And I believed them.
My self-esteem was abysmal, compounded by the importance my family placed on humility. To aspire to anything greater in life was to presume to be more than others. “Who am I to dream such an impossible dream?” I concluded.
After high school, I worked in jobs that didn’t require much skill until, to my surprise, I was contracted to work fulltime at a respected insurance firm. Everyone was thrilled to see me become a tie-and-jacket office man.
But my happiness didn’t last long. Between resolving customer claims and complaints, to filling out endless, redundant administrative forms, I had little time for anything else, including my creativity. I began to glimpse a very dark road ahead. Was this all that the future held for me?
“Work is not meant to make you happy,” my family would say. “Work gives you dignity. It is a great honour to put bread on the table with the sweat of your brow.”
But all that changed in an instant when Javi died.
Javi was my best friend. We grew up together. We lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same school and were in the same classes together. We were twenty-four when he died.
They told me it was an accident, that the guard-rail upon which he leaned at the construction site did not support his weight. After a week in a coma, he was gone.
In the days that followed, I moved like a zombie, blinded by feelings of impotence and rage. And a burning question: "why?" One fact was indisputable: It could have been me lying in that coffin. All my sacrifice, all my hard work, and for what? To live a life that, sooner or later, would take me to that same place?
I remember lying in bed one night and – was it a dream? – watching him appear, a smile on his lips, and sit by my side. He held my trembling hand in his, in the same way he used to every time we saw each other. A torrent of emotions flooded me and, in a loud voice, I promised:
“Javi, I will live the life that you couldn’t. My life will have meaning. I will do the things that truly make me happy; that would have made us both happy. I will never again live in fear. I promise you.”
When, two months later, my firm informed me that they would not renew my contract, I saw it as an opportunity to fulfill my promise. It was at this time that the seed of trying to live from my artwork was planted. And the day would eventually come when I would leave everything behind to make that promise a reality.
Javi’s passing was a wake-up call for me, the point at which how I saw the world and how I made decisions would be forever changed. It was a fundamental step in what would later become the most precious gift that his friendship would grant me: a powerful awakening. It would lead me to connect once again with divinity – the great lost Love of my childhood – and to experience an unshakeable peace that would accompany the next steps of my life’s journey.
By: Alberto Agraso, Intuitive Artist, Peace Pilgrim (http://walkingforpeace.com).