[Closed] We Want it Darker? or Can we find meaning from the dark?
Spiritually inclined people, myself included, tend to think that crisis is necessary for transformation. However, recent events here in the US and abroad, what with the detention of asylum seekers and the Christchurch massacre, are challenging the breeziness with which we once intoned that "darkness is medicine." It appears that if we want darkness to do its alchemical work on society, then we also have to accept that some people will experience suffering much more acutely than others, and that fact is hard to reconcile with the end goal of transformation.
Like many of you, I've sensed since childhood that something is fundamentally wrong with our world, and I've spent the majority of my life actively hoping for some grand crisis to knock our global consumerist culture out of its stupor. I was born in the 1990s, and watched as the initial shock of 9/11 gave way to the tedium of the War on Terror. Then there was the 2008 financial meltdown, but the central banks (barely) managed to squeak past that threat and keep the edifice chugging along. Then the Occupy protests petered out, the Eurozone debt crisis never materialized, and the Obama Administration turned out to be just as prone to neoliberal sentiments and surveillance state impulses as its predecessors.
Now, at least since 2016, the global ascent of strongmen and breakdown in diplomatic dialogue has brought an end to the blithe ennui of 2000-2015, but at a huge humanitarian cost that all of us here are aware of. So am I justified to wish for crisis? I'm sitting here, comfortably typing away at my computer, while children are locked in cages with the aid of my tax dollars. Vera de Chalambert wrote in her viral essay "Kali Takes America: I'm With Her":
"I think that this moment gives us an opportunity for reckoning only if instead of running for the light, we let ourselves go fully into the dark...We must not send suffering into exile — the fear, the heartbreak, the anger, the helplessness all are appropriate, all are welcome."
Yet even by allowing myself to feel anger and heartbreak at the current state of this nation (and thus let darkness perform her alchemical work), I am still doing so at the expense of someone's more profound suffering. Or perhaps the crisis has not hit rock bottom yet, and at some point soon we will all experience deep suffering, and only then will modern culture transform? Is anyone else struggling with these sorts of thoughts about crisis and transformation?
"Is anyone else struggling with these sorts of thoughts about crisis and transformation?" --Coyote
Thank you, Coyote, for a beautifully expressed, incredibly thoughtful post. And for the Vera de Chalambert essay.
As always, you've got me thinking. I see that suffering brings awakenings. But I don't welcome the suffering, especially not for others. I welcome the awakening. I don't want it darker, but I recognize when we are living in a way that is harmful to so many and to our fellow animals and the earth, that suffering may be the only way we wake up to what we are doing that needs to change.
The Vera de Chalambert's essay was really good, but I could never welcome the darkness.
I see it this way: First we find ourselves in darkness. Then instead of haranguing against God for our misfortune, we find the meaning in the suffering. We learn from the darkness.
On 12/12/12 I pulled a card for our world, and got the Hanged Man. It said we were entering a period of suffering in which we would not be able to change our predicament. We would have to live with it, like the Hanged Man, a person hanging upside down by the toes. We would have to surrender to our situation.
Two days later, the Newtown Massacre happened, and people all over the world were sobbing over this unbearable atrocity. I sensed it was just the start of what we'd go through. I somehow doubt that anyone would have welcomed such suffering, or that anyone welcomes the suffering we are now seeing at the border. Back in 2012, I had posted a brief article on 12/12/12/ about how surrender and pain causes transformation. But never in my wildest dreams would have welcomed the suffering that followed just two days later.
Finally and most important, I don't think it's other people's suffering that causes transformation. I think it's my own. My own suffering causes my own transformation.
Tell me more about your own struggle with darkness leading to light, suffering leading to transformation. I want to understand what you, and anyone else here might be grappling with in these concepts.
Thank you for your response, Jeanne. I went through a dark night of the soul that lasted from October 2016 to April 2017 that was precipitated by health problems but was aggravated by the political climate and the oppressive sense of fear in the collective. I especially remember the long nights of December and January, when I lied in bed awake until sunrise, kicking my feet and tossing and turning with hopelessness as I came to realize that my personal future and society's future would not progress the way I had previously imagined it would, and to me that felt like the end of the world.
As it turned out, that feeling of the world coming to an end was necessary for me to reboot my imagination and envision new modes of cultural change and living my own life. In the process, when hopelessness was my overriding state of mind, there were times when I turned to suicidal ideation, and I'm convinced interventions on the part of the universe prevented me from carrying out those ideations. But as the current epidemic of opioid abuse and suicide in the US shows, the universe is not going to intervene in every person's despair, and so I struggle with the ethics of wishing for crisis. In effect, aren't I wishing for the suffering and occasional death of other people?
Jeanne, your interpretation of the hanged man brings some clarity to this issue. I think when I find myself desiring crisis, I'm actually picking up on the immensity of our predicament and the certainty that there will be collective suffering. But if suffering is certain, then I at least can hope that that suffering will lead to awakening. Like you, it's the awakening that I welcome. And I agree with your other point - it's my own suffering that causes my own transformation. Although I'm still learning more about myself in these dark days, I feel like I did a large chunk of the painful work of metamorphosis when I was depressed back in 2016-17. That puts me in a position to help others who still feel trapped by darkness and thus accelerate the societal paradigm shift we so desire. Not long ago I caught up with an older cousin of mine who lives halfway across the country and seems to be struggling with the same existential impotence I was dealing with three years ago. Although I haven't followed up on our conversation yet, I'm thinking I should check in with her and start putting theory into practice.
I have read your last post again and again. There is so much in it, I don't know where to begin other than to thank you for saying what I have felt throughout the last 2.5 years, although better than I could have said it. -- The shock, then despair, then hanging in there, then gaining strength, then helping others who are struggling.
I also have found joy -- in feeling so much love for others whose lives I wouldn't have known if it weren't for this crisis. This community of beautiful souls who I have needed all my life, and now we have a place to meet. And I've found joy in seeing nature with new eyes, now that climate science is beginning to show us how our earth is so interconnected and miraculous--even as it is decompensating before our eyes.
I'm glad you hung in there when things got unbearable. It must have taken courage to tell us how dark it got for you. I am grateful to you for that. I did not know how much pain you have suffered, and I see now and want to surround you with care and with gratitude for all that you bring to this community. You give with all of your heart, Coyote.
This is the most powerful time you could be here and I'm just so glad you are here.
I feel this thread that you started is perhaps the most important in the forum. But it is also the hardest.
And it will likely not get a lot of posts because it's hard to figure out what to do with all that has happened other than to hope it will end. But there is something important to do with all that has happened and where we are now.
It's just so hard to get to the core of it. I feel like I'm peeling back layers of consciousness and can't see the answer.
So instead of answers, I will pose a question to you, to myself, and to anyone reading this.
The question I want to ask now is how can we evolve in this situation?
Or, maybe we don't want it darker.
Maybe we want it lighter so we can actually see what the darkness has created . To see what has been hidden in the shadows, what has been allowed to grow under the cover of darkness. Just because it is too dark to see now, doesn't mean it hasn't been there playing havoc and slowly corrupting things. As the light is allowed to shine, it begins to extend to the darkest of corners and the truth is revealed. When the light of dawn spreads its' rays across the land, the weeds will be revealed along with the healthy fruit and vegetables. We are only able to weed the garden once the light shines to reveal the truth of the situation. Knowing the truth, however horrid it may seem , will allow for us to care properly for the garden, for ourselves, for our communities, for our world. The light will allow us to make sense of what has been fermenting in darkness, in absence of light. So perhaps we need more light to shine and reveal what has been hidden from our view so we can understand the reality of the situation. Then we can finally create something new that is filled with love, hope and joy.
The wound is the place where the light enters you.--Rumi
Sending love and appreciation for the vulnerable feelings shared in this discussion. I agree that the epidemic of opiate addiction, the rates of depression and more, are very much related to the crisis our world is in.
Perhaps my own history of healing from deep trauma has helped prepare me for these times. Like you, Coyote, I feel there were interventions on my behalf, a grace that pulled me out of despair and guided me toward healing and self-love (and therefore love for all). I'm thinking of a quote referenced in the book Jung and Tarot, which, if memory serves, is part of the discussion of the Temperance card: "Every soul has an angel which stands over it and whispers 'Grow, grow.'" I often wonder why some of us are resilient and others are not, and part of that may be the degree to which we are able to hear and follow that call to love and wholeness. But that call, those divine interventions, are offered to everyone. We aren't separate from the divine, much less one another, but some of us may be more firmly stuck in that illusion of separation than others. I don't know. I wish I knew so I could help those stuck in dark places.
As for your important question, Jeanne, how do we evolve through this? My own growth and development has mostly been a matter of surrender. Life is growth and evolution. Some of us get stuck and stand in the way, cling to our comforts and security against the flow of change. Some harden against the feelings that make them vulnerable. Softening my heart and letting go have been the most helpful for me--not to say that I am not accountable for myself, but that I am living as an expression of something larger. Part of my prayer ritual each morning is to set an intention to open myself to my life as an expression of loving, grateful service. What that amounts to and how it all plays out isn't really up to me as an individual--rather like the "let go and let god" sentiment. I hope this makes sense! For me, the active work is mindful awareness and trying to avoid a kind of rigid, clinging self-protection and to engage whole-heartedly and mindfully with whatever I do. (Decades of being a Buddhist coming through this perspective.) I fall short much of the time, but the more I practice and pray for support, the more peace and love I feel and can share with others. ❤️
We are only able to weed the garden once the light shines to reveal the truth of the situation.--Lovendures
The wound is the place where the light enters you.--Rumi (from Herondreams)
"Every soul has an angel which stands over it and whispers 'Grow, grow.'" -- Herondreams. (quote from Jung & Tarot)
Your wisdom is like a soothing balm. And you inspire me.
Still I keep asking myself, how do I move forward when I cannot change what needs changing in this broken world?
I hear a whispered response: Start by changing yourself, Jeanne. So I'm back to that question of how do I evolve?
I hear Mary Oliver's words, "You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." (Wild Geese)
It's not the final answer, but perhaps it's one path through the dark. To me, she's saying, do things that give you true joy and become aware of what true joy is for you and what it is not.
This is such an individual thing because we are all in different places on the path. Perhaps we all have jobs to do and true joy comes when we are doing them, when we discover what Oliver wrote is our "place in the family of things."
Or does true joy come when I connect with someone and discover their inner light? Or when I help someone? When I contribute to something I believe in? When I do something creative? When I discover beauty in someone or something? When I feel gratitude? All questions. Trying to find a path through the dark.
And what is not true joy; what causes pain? Got to figure that out too. When I hurt someone. When I think too about a dark future with no way to navigate it because I'm not there yet.
There are days when the only way I can navigate is to literally focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes I can see what the day will be, sometimes I press forward blindly. I do my best to stay mindful and take each thing as it comes. I'm not always successful, but then (so far) there's a next day, and I press forward again.
I am also a person who suffered severe trauma, beginning in childhood, on multiple fronts. I had suicidal thoughts by the age of 8. I know now that this changed my brain and how it works. It still makes me angry, because it was unnecessary and mostly preventable, but then I remember that those of us who persevere despite trauma are the ones who evolve (@jeanne-mayell), the ones who become more insightful and intuitive, the ones who want to protect what needs protecting. I have found over the years that my closest relationships tend to be with people who have also suffered some kind of severe trauma. There's some kind of unwritten/unsaid understanding that people without trauma can't conceive of. I'm not saying that if you haven't had trauma you're not a good person I'm just saying that if the trauma doesn't kill you, it really does make you stronger in some ways. If nothing else, it definitely steels you against the darkness. Some of us are more cynical or pessimistic, but when things go well, I know I for one am so pleasantly surprised that I feel real joy. The silver lining of low expectations...lol...
Love your words and thoughts here, Jeanne. ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ After I wrote my post I walked my dog and thought about adding "Wild Geese" into the conversation so I was thrilled to see you already went there! That poem and others by her have been such a balm for me.
It is the example of Mary Oliver herself that helps me understand. After the 2016 election, I wrestled with the idea of what is my responsibility and how I might better serve the world. It seemed imperative to get more involved in politics and social justice work, and I leaned into the perspective that nature writers like Mary Oliver were somehow shirking a duty while the rest of the world is burning around them. But that's not true: Mary Oliver followed her calling and shared the gifts that were given to her with the rest of us, and her words give strength, meaning, and inspiration to many people. Even if your work does not get the exposure of someone like Mary Oliver, it sends ripples out into the world. And this work is fundamentally expressing what is yours to offer, be it small acts of kindness, works of art, or creating a forum like this for people to support one another. It is our judging mind that wants to assign value to things and determine concrete, cause & effect outcomes, etc. but reality is so much more expansive than that and we can't see it.
Jeanne, when you wrote that post about being vegan I was thinking of my teacher who loves shopping on amazon. You got me thinking about his choice to shop there and I asked why he didn’t have an issue with it. He gave me a good explanation which I won’t go into except that it helped me see- but I asked: so how do we make a difference in the world? His response was ‘recycle and be kind.’ Like Mary Oliver I don’t think it’s about doing gymnastics and suffering unnecessarily but to be mindful in our eating (like native Americans and Buddhists as well as others), to offer smiles, to be kind, to recognize our personal gifts and then use that as a vehicle to offer solace for those who are hurting. I’m an elementary teacher and that’s my medium- you offer so much to this community. I’m not saying anything we here on this forum don’t know but it bears repeating that it’s far simpler than we think. When we stay in the light, when our thoughts adhere to the beauty in the world then that’s what we manifest.
I don't know if I have anything meaningful I can contribute to this thread but I feel compelled to share my thoughts. I do not want it go darker - I cry out in fear and pain because I want life to get better - for all of us. When I was a little girl I survived serious trauma and abuse - when I look at photos of myself then and see my cute little face and innocent eyes I don't understand why my parents wanted to hurt me so much. I too have been suicidal, I too have struggled to move forward. Throughout my life I loved history and read voraciously - for most of my life (I was born in the late 80's) I believed that I lived in a world where the evils of the past were over and a society that was fundamentally fair - I really believed this. I was shaken out of that in 2014 when Putin invaded Ukraine. I was shaken even worse in 2016 when Trump won the election. I do what Laura does, put one foot in front of the other and just try to keep going. The last few years have been tough, my husband has lost friends because of Trump, I have lost my hope in people.
I want to believe that the darkness will teach us a lesson - because it certainly has taught me. But experience tells me otherwise. My Russian family continues to worship the ground Putin walks on and believe conspiracy theories against the west (like the one that claims that flight MH17 was full of mannequins instead of actual people and was downed in an attempt to make Russia look bad), no amount of evidence will shake their faith. I have relatives in America who are Trump supporters, and the same rule applies - there is nothing that convinces them to change their minds. In both instances there is a concerted effort to ignore uncomfortable things, like the plight of the children in the camps or the plight of LGBTQ people in Chechnya and Russia - it's always the same - ignore the problem and if forced to confront it find some justification for why the evil being committed isn't so bad (they shouldn't have come to the United States in the first place etc.....).
I watched a documentary a little while ago about an American soldier of Jewish German descent who went around Germany right after the end of the war and talked to people he had known and strangers about their ideologies and whether they regretted anything. It was horrible - everyone he spoke to, from the kindergarten teacher, to a random young woman were Nazis - convinced of the ideology and lacking any empathy for their victims. His verdict was that that generation of Germans would never change, change would only come in future generations.
I recently finished reading the Pendulum by Julie Lindahl - it's a book about how she discovered that her grandparents were prominent Nazis and war criminals. She described the kindness her grandmother showed her throughout her life and then when at the age of 100 she was confronted with the truth of her past she denied it (she always maintained the holocaust was a fiction) and then justified it - no where ever was there an ounce of remorse. This is humanity - the virulent Trump supporters will still be here 10, 20, 30 years from now. Just as the confederates were still alive and passing down their hate in the 1890's.
We failed to learn from the last great war - why? We are repeating for what ungodly reason - because enough of us failed to learn. How can we be sure that we will learn this time? Many of us will, I certainly have, but not everyone.
I see the marches, the movements, the protests and it gives me hope. The pain people feel and how they act on it to try to create a better world. I cheer them on, I want so much to believe that we can be better, we can create a better world. And I personally think that we will create a better world, one inch at a time we will, but not everyone will follow. And those that don't will always threaten to drag us back to an age of brutality, a lust for violence and an emptiness of the soul, these people aren't going anywhere.
Is there a meaning in all this? I want so much to believe so. But then what was the meaning of the last world war? Did we learn anything? All I can do is be kind and give love freely, knowing that it is an unlimited resource and not something to be hoarded.
I'm so so sorry for how depressing this post is. I don't want to upset anyone, it's just what goes through my head when I think of it all.
Natalie - my current view of humanity right now is very dark. I think we're just a bunch of murderous chimpanzees with opposable thumbs. That altruism is the exception, not the rule, and that in this time cruelty is a feature, not a bug. Some of us are evolving, but the majority are not. And so the wheel spins...
Here's the thing.....and maybe it is a nod to us all.
It seems incredibly dark to us, because we are enlightened and "in the light". For the less evolved, this darkness isn't nearly as dark.
While we are screaming and wanting the darkness to stop, it hasn't gotten DARK ENOUGH yet for the balance of the collective to be ready for enlightenment.
The price we pay for being kind, compassionate, spiritual people.....kinda makes you want God to go back to the days of smiting people....doesn't it? The turds don't deserve better. Yet, we suffer and endure so they can learn......reminds me of parenting....and we don't even get a Mother's/Father's Day form of acknowledgement <or breakfast in bed>....
Clearly something is wrong in the universe when the enlightened folks don't get breakfast in bed! I think we should direct positive energy in that direction....<God, I hope someone smiles at my silliness>
I can't believe you are all making me laugh with this subject.
Natalie you are not depressing me. You are showing that you are struggling, and also brilliant in your thinking. When someone is telling the deep truth, it doesn't drag down.
Your outlook and Laura's current description of humans reminds me of John Steinbeck's letter on New Year's Day 1941. Lifted from Maria Popova's Brain Pickings blog:
Steinbeck (author of Grapes of Wrath and other masterpieces) championed the poor and the disenfranchised. He loved the little guy. He'd lived through WWI, and so on New Year's Day 1941 after the Nazi's had successfully swept through Europe, he lamented:
Speaking of the happy new year, I wonder if any year ever had less chance of being happy. It’s as though the whole race were indulging in a kind of species introversion — as though we looked inward on our neuroses. And the thing we see isn’t very pretty… So we go into this happy new year, knowing that our species has learned nothing, can, as a race, learn nothing — that the experience of ten thousand years has made no impression on the instincts of the million years that preceded.
But he also points out that not only will the good will return again, but that we need the dark in order to have the light and in order to be human:
Not that I have lost any hope. All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die. I don’t know why we should expect it to. It seems fairly obvious that two sides of a mirror are required before one has a mirror, that two forces are necessary in man before he is man. I asked [the influential microbiologist] Paul de Kruif once if he would like to cure all disease and he said yes. Then I suggested that the man he loved and wanted to cure was a product of all his filth and disease and meanness, his hunger and cruelty. Cure those and you would have not man but an entirely new species you wouldn’t recognize and probably wouldn’t like.
FINALLY, I agree with you that just as there will always be Nazis, there will always be avowed Trumpers. But a time will come when they are not running the government. When they will be reduced to a fringe where they belong. Remember the Germans were known for their efficiency and technological achievements. They were pretty intimidating in the same way that the Thuglicans and dark money oligarchs are intimidating in their power.
But the Germans lost and they lost big. Humans will not be caged and controlled for long. We are animals, natural beings, and being forces of nature, we need to be free. Just watch us over time. We will overthrow these thugs.
I had never heard of John Steinbeck or his books, but two weekends ago we were up in Maine with my in laws when I was looking at an old bookshelf and found a hardcover copy of his complete works. I took it out and started reading the grapes of wrath. My mother in law was impressed and told me take the book home with me, it originally belonged to my husbands grandmother.
"Grapes Of Wraith" is on TCM tonight 7 central time. I always disliked that movie about Okies going to California. I don't like being called an Okie because of that movie. My family didn't go.
The movie is not even a close approximation of the book but it is long. Cannery Row and Mice and Men are also wonderful but all of his books are masterpieces. He wrote about the poor and the disenfranchised and saw their dignity. In his books are the key to the basic goodness of humanity.
Every day, I struggle to put into words how I am feeling. I believe I am an empath, and as one, the chaos I feel is so great that I sometimes think my head and/or soul will break apart. Yet, the words I need to express how I feel, how most of us feel, have not been invented yet.
When he was elected, I cried so hard that my nose started to bleed onto my carpet in my apartment. I fell to the ground. I collapsed in grief, as many people jumped up and down in joy. My aunt, who I overcame the fear of flying to visit, said I had no intelligence because I didn't vote for him. This was and is devastating. Her husband, knowing my issues with gender dysphoria, said Michele Obama is really a man, and it's no big deal that Mrs. Trump posed nude.
I can no longer do the mental gymnastics I need to do to have them in my life.
I can't risk seeing family who support him in anyway. I can't put myself through it. It's not simply a matter of not agreeing with a specific policy; it's trying to maintain some mental health for myself.
Even now, 2.5 years later, the only way I can keep some semblance of peace is to be in denial. I have to avoid all news, which, admittedly, I fail at. I have to avoid any family members or friends who support him. If I am friends with anyone on Facebook that support him, I have to unfollow so I don't see it. I try to get my news heavily digested, usually through psychics and others of the more spiritual nature.
I was thinking how much of a coward I am. We often think about how we'd act in Nazi Germany, and I would like to think I'd be out fighting Nazis, protecting those they sought. But I'm a fraud; I'd be in my little apartment, hiding to protect myself.
I'm sure there were people in Nazi Germany who would say I had Hitler Derangement Syndrome, or I'm just a snowflake with a bleeding heart. How can one feel so much chaos and pain from a man who still has 40% of American support? Then, it makes me question my sanity; if 40% of people think he is great, or least, better than a Democrat, then maybe I'm the one who is crazy.
There is a tiny part of me, the part of me who is terrified, who wishes I had some sort of Stockholm Syndrome, where I identify with him so I can at least feel at peace, regardless of what he does and how much damage he inflicts. Once again, I'm a coward.
I have the privilege of being white and American-born; I have the privilege of sitting in my little apartment, watching TV and reading. And that makes me feel so fraudulent, so pathetic.
Even these words I write don't seem adequate. I am safe in my little space while children are being separated by their families, while those who seek safety are being traumatized, probably worse than they were in their homeland.
I know that Jesus says to forgive. But I don't think I can. I don't think I can forgive those who still support him. I cannot forgive those in Congress who are bending over for him...I really don't blame him, as you don't blame a rat for being a rat. But our Founders, the deeply-flawed but visionary men who created this country, gave us a process for this. We have a process for removing him. We have it. It's spelling out in black and white. It's THERE! But it's not being done. It's being ignore. We are being gaslit; Up is Down; East is West.
I also want to add--the few guys who gave me the most trouble in high school are huge Trump supporters...and it feels like it's a re-traumatization for me. I know that's how those who were actually raped/assaulted by him feel as well. Whether they harassed me due to my appearance, acne, or weight, I feel like my bully is now the President...but I'm just a snowflake, what do I know.
I'm sorry for my rambling.
regarding the dark, regarding the upheaval, radical changes etc. I honestly believe we don't have a choice in the matter. These are the influences under which we live. There is good and there is evil within the hearts of all men (and women). It is our journey or dialectic that tilts that wheel back and forth.
I think to look at the wholeness of it, just is so intimidating, overwhelming. How can anyone look to rectify all the wrongs, untie all the knots, put things right?
I used to think that we needed some big revolution but I was young and impatient then. I see now that instability can cause larger more irreparable problems. There are always vultures waiting for a weakness and we have to admit, Trump, by violating so many norms, he also made some radical changes that has made us all feel very disoriented and afraid, as if our society and government is going to crumble-- those big changes to us seem very monumental and we all crave normalcy and stability. So I have come around to incremental changes improving with each cycle. If you can look at families, I think that is a small unit (of society) that is a good example of how each generation improves a bit more than the previous.
So my idea is that as individuals, we may not all be able to do great big things. Many of us don't believe we could run for dogcatcher and win... so Congressman and President are well out of our ken. We are not necessarily titans of business that can model some great breakthrough in compassionate capitalism. However, there is always something we can do to improve and tilt the balance whether it is just to smile and be kind to others day to day, meditate on love and peace, pray, sing, show love to others, give what we can to those in need, vote for important things, give of ourselves (our time), even if we don't have time, we see people in our lives at work or in our neighborhood and can be inspired to help (being the helper, the ally, the mentor, the friend). I think that all counts.