"You are like a shooting star that never falls. You just keep shining and shining. And you have incredible eyes! So open, so soft and so alive!"
How did he react?
I think he had trouble understanding me at first (I was speaking German, he is a French native) but then he said: "Thank you!" And smiled his falling star smile.
How did I feel?
Do you remember that aunt of yours who would visit once a year? You knew it was her the minute you heard the bell ring, because she would press three times, just to make sure you did not miss hearing her. As soon as your mom would open your aunt's shouts would fill the house: "Pheewww, this was the longest journey ever! I am exhausted.", she would cry before she had even entered.
Later, at dinner, she would point out that your mom had never been one for the cooking and suggest your parents should seriously start ordering in. Your mom's fists would turn white under the table. Looking at your dad your aunt would add, "Oh, good lord! How many pounds have you gained? You are a ton! How can this happen in only 12 months?! We need to see each other more often, I mean, someone has to take care of your weight and obviously that someone is not you. Don't thank me, that's what family is for!" And on she would go, nagging at your future plans and your sibling's math deficiency, bragging about her latest achievements and wining about her loud neighbors.
The three days of her stay felt like weeks, didn't they? Usually there would be one big escalation along the way, towards the end. But she was family, and everyone knew she would be back.
Maybe she was not your aunt but your grandma, or your dad's high school buddy. Either way this person was the most annoying guest on the planet.
Everyone has met that person.
And, hopefully, everyone has been with their opposite. I was lucky to encounter that opposite last weekend. His name is David and he visited my roommate.
I came home to the two of them on Saturday. 40 hours of moving chaos lay behind me and I was carrying three heavy bags of groceries. Immediately David came running and took two of the bags to the kitchen. Next he offered his help for arranging my furniture and diagnosed my hurting thumb (David is a physician). I had never seen the guy before. Well mannered, you might say, and I would agree. But David transcends his amazing manners, I quickly learned that: He is personified amiability. His smile embraces everything you are before you have said a single word to him. Once you do speak his eyes take in all of your statements you can see through them how David digests. His answers prove that. They carry a transformation of what you have talked about before and tell you: He listens carefully.
While that horrible aunt guest used to suck all the warmth in your home David adds 5 degrees, at least. Let him speak and he will create a loving and enthusiastic wave, delighting you with the most interesting facts and practices, like haptonomy, fun French vocabulary or thoughts from his thesis about HIV and immigrants. Or he might share activities of his: Yesterday he spent all day at Berghain. This morning, before coffee, I asked him, "How was it?", and he said, "Great!". The look on his face let me relive his complete experience and suddenly I went from tired to stoked. His one word answer had filled me with life, all because of the spirit it came with. David turns eating into a retreat, with every bite he mmhhhhs. Instead of a show this is nothing but David devoting to his food and enjoying. Being with him is a gift. You have been there: The aunt person would close the door for another year and everyone let our a relieved sigh. Contrary to that, when David left today, I begged him to come back soon. Because he really is what I called him, a shooting star that does not fall. A few hours after I complimented him I remembered a statement of Noah’s “Do you know glow worms? That’s what was told people who shine through the dark are. You know the minute you see them, they spread light and warmth wherever they go.”
If anyone deserves that title, David does. A glow worm, a shooting star- and definitely the greatest guest on the planet! Thanks for visiting, David!
Yes! David is the one with the blue hat, next to my wonderful roommate Prem.