Yoni and Micki
To Yoni: "Your eyes continually say, I am with you. I see you. when you listen. It's like they provide a warm, gentle ground for me to walk on with the words I share with you. " and "I love your presence and your ability to communicate your perspective."
To Micki: "Your energy level is exceptional. You have an overall drive that I have not encountered in anyone else so far." and: "Your sense of humor is great. Edgy, provocative. It brings friction. That's awesome."
How did they react?
They said thanks- and complimented me in return! (Read below)
How did I feel?
They were each other's antitheses. Together they made for a summer storm, with Micki representing the lightning and Yoni the warm raindrops. They were Schubert's death and a maiden quartet, in which Micki covered parts of the fourth movement and Yoni parts of the second. Micki was shimmering metal, Yoni smooth wood; Micki spicy vodka and Yoni mellow red wine; Micki a roaring waterfall and Yoni the moss and soil around it; They were this painting and this one.
Complementary couples are a classic. John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Calvin and Hobbes, Laurel and Hardy -- they all shared big love. At first Yoni and Micki seemed like a mere add to that collection and I did not wonder at the bromance vibes from their table at a Berlin restaurant where I sat next to them. They were both casually relaxing on their bench, sometimes speaking, sometimes silently enjoying their food. I could tell by their postures that they were comfortable around each other. However when I started talking to them they surprised me, for blond and light-eyed Micki was more than just dark-haired, brown-eyed Yoni's brotha from anotha motha. He was, well, his brotha from the same motha. The two of them were siblings. Now I am not saying being related means looking alike. I, too, have seen families with different hair colors before. But Micki and Yoni's outer disparity transcended their features. Their body languages differed, and even their English accents sounded like they had been raised in two families far away from each other (they did not as I learned that night. But that's a different story). Soon I realized that their distinctness in looks and sounds applied to their ways of being, too. Calm Yoni, the younger one, did a great job listening to energetic spokesman Micki. Micki's voice was clear and plainly audible. He referred to at least three artists, thinkers and historians per sentence, and there was always something left for him to say. His eyes radiated with vigor. Yoni's speaking on the other hand was fine. There were pauses in his statements, and multiple "I feel"s and "I'm noticing"s. His eyes said, you are welcome and I am listening at all times. For a few moments I wondered if Yoni got knocked down by Micki's share of conversation. But as our chat carried on I started to believe the answer to that was no, as I began to notice their subtle cues, declaring their love for each other between the lines. There were several occasions in which Yoni did raise his voice- and Micki listened instantly, respect and interest written all over his face. While Micki talked Yoni's eyes did not hold hidden hard feelings. They reflected love. The way they functioned as a team impressed me. I saw fondness in their expressions when facing their own antipole in their brother's body. Mutual appreciation appeared to be their common territory. Neither of them seemed inferior. They were just -- different. And they let each other be. I figured that they probably loved each other enough, plus they were mature enough, to realize that an antithesis can be a great point of reference and growth, especially when it is a personified one.
While initially I had sat down at their table because they had told me they had both studied at UC Berkeley (my personal number one school) and both spent their days writing (my personal number one activity) in our in-passing-small talk, I ended up staying all night because their quality of acceptance, their broad smiles, Micki's never ending stream of ideas and references and Yoni's intellect and heartfelt presence added up to be a perfect breeding ground for a conversation. I probably said, "I'll go in a second, I just need to tell you one last thing/ask one last question/share one last impression.", at least ten times. Our topics went from the question as to whether Berkeley equals J. Butler's bubble, through controversies in branding of Yoga styles, through writing techniques and experiences, through porn paradoxes, through traveling stories and takeaways, through praising the peace and quiet of Sabbath, through beer tasting, all the way to family history.
When three hours into our encounter they brought up their parents I took up my observations from the beginning concerning the contrast between them. I wondered what they had been like as kids and thought about whether their differences in character had grown through their togetherness (because it is said that siblings always pick niches to dissociate themselves from each other) or if they had started growing apart in their ways of being once Micki had left the US 11 years ago. I assumed that there had had to be a time, years back, when they had had fights. When maybe Micki had been one shutting up Yoni- or the other way around. Nothing crazy, just the way siblings are. My own baby sister Clara came to mind. I remembered our week long wars, and how we still sometimes get on each other's nerves. I sure had been the one to shut Clara up back in the days. In return she had found her ways to terrorize me. However as I contemplated on Clara and my relationship I realized there has been a sort of growth into a mutual appreciation similar to Yoni's and Micki's vibe. Nowadays we get along. We are not each other's anti poles the way Yoni and Micki seemed to me that night, but we sure are different enough. Without a doubt our bond has developed, as back in the days I would call her names on a regular basis while today I miss her every day that I don't see her, and I am capable of expressing that. But there is a difference between the way I treat Clara and what I observed between Yoni and Micki. My sister and I meet in our similarities. We put our differences aside for the time we spend together. We let each other be, sure, but there is times when we deliberately ignore the parts of ourselves we know the other one cannot relate to. Contrary to that Micki and Yoni seemed to immerse in their differences. I felt like they cherished their contrasts, even those that did not just complement each other but with any other couple would have triggered conflict. They embraced friction. That way the friction turned into a source for invigorating moments, interesting chats and inspiring chains of thought for me. Watching Micki and Yoni and comparing their togetherness with Clara's and mine motivated my setting an intention: I want to treasure the contrasts between Clara and me more, and I want to show her more of the parts of me which I believe drive us away from each other. I can't wait to see where this will lead us to.
Micki and Yoni are seven years older than Clara and I. If in 2022 my sister and I manage to display and celebrate our differences as much as Micki and Yoni do I will pat both of us on the back. Thanks, Yoni and Micki, for inspiring this! And thanks for recklessly living your unique qualities. Sharing your company I had a blast.
Yeah! The most beautiful moment that night was the compliment-round we finished our encounter with. I complimented the two of them separate from each other (read above) and they paid me compliments in return. Yoni said, "You are always present when interacting with someone. You're one hundred percent there. There is never wasted time with you." My jaw sagged when I heard that. It was one of the most wonderful statements about me I had ever received. Micki's equally beautiful compliment was, "There is a positive strength in you which I like a lot. Just the fact that you are going through with this compliment-project even when you don't feel like it, that you stick with it, already proves that you have this affirmative spirit which does not just exist but which you deliberately decide for."
Two moving gifts in words which I took home with me. i have been replaying them in my head several times ever since that night.
The next day I had a wonderful press encounter with Sven Preger in which I talked about Yoni and Micki, too. You can listen to it online here.