We tend to pick friends who think like us. With such similarities, it is easy, comfortable, and natural for friendship to blossom. However, when a friendship blossoms despite the differences, it can accelerate our growth, pushing us to see another perspective we had never imagined.
My friendship with Art blossomed despite our differences. Early in our friendship, I kicked Art out of our house, because I was so offended and frustrated by his humor, but over time, I learned to appreciate and embrace that humor. I learned to see the beauty of his insights and took comfort in how he saw the world so differently from me.
The key was to remove the element of judgment due to our differences, learning to trust our differences as an asset rather than a liability. Once I was able to accept that, I gained all the benefits of a different perspective without straining myself. I witnessed the power of vulnerability. Appreciating a different point of view made me more tolerant. I learned to communicate and to bridge the gap of our differences. Our friendship was also helped by the fact that Art was a kind soul with a big heart. Both of us were persistent (our friends would say stubborn), and we had dinner together nearly every week for over twenty years. Over delicious food, we had many opportunities to grow fond of each other despite our differences.
Art and I did share a common desire to give back and make a positive social impact. With two degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), working as a software engineer was easy and financially lucrative for Art; however, Art wanted to make a difference and give back to the community. While it was a much harder path for him, Art decided to pivot his career to becoming a high school teacher. His curiosity and his thoughtfulness would have made him an amazing teacher.
On August 11, 2019, Art was taken from us, having suffered a fatal bike accident while training for a competition in Marin. We miss him dearly. As time goes by, we miss him no less at each weekly dinner gathering, as we realize he is never coming back. Art will not be planning his annual ski trip this January, and Art will not become a thoughtful inspiring teacher.
Instead, we are setting up a giving campaign at Jezuba in his memory: “Light up the world with Art.” We would love to have your support to bridge the gap of differences in culture, socioeconomic status, generations, and build a community of hope with Art. Please consider contributing. Your contribution of $25 will enable two school children in rural Burma to replace environmentally hazardous kerosene lamps with solar LED lamps. Moreover, it will empower the next generation with hope.
Co-founder and Director, Jezuba