A Friend in the Dark

A quote from Helen Keller about friendship.

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”

– Helen Keller

Helen Keller faced what many would have considered insurmountable obstacles. She was both deaf and blind. Yet she became a gifted and prolific writer. Her words have touched the lives of many, well beyond her own lifetime. 

Would she have achieved this alone? I don’t think so. Thankfully, she had friends.

Why I chose this author quote

This week we celebrate International Day of Friendship. And what better words to express its importance than these. 

Helen had no choice but to walk in the dark. Most of us do. And that’s what makes this quote so powerful. You can’t help but think about the decision you would make, if you were actually faced with that choice.

What this author quote means to me

When I think about friendship, I remember one of my son’s birthday parties. It was at a climbing centre. Everyone had a go at the climbing wall and it was great fun. But at the end of the session there was an opportunity to try a more challenging activity. 

There was a rope crossing the room about 10 metres above the ground. Climbers had to clip themselves on and pull themselves across to the other side of the room. This required a lot of strength and even more bravery.

I’ll admit, I got a little worried at this point. There were fifteen friends there, which is quite a big audience if you think you might fail. And none of them had ever done anything like this before.

What happened next?

A few kids immediately chose not to do the activity. I was concerned someone might make fun of them. But that didn’t happen. Instead, that group offered to be the cheerleaders. And the others gladly accepted that support.

The first person stepped up and attempted the crossing. They weren’t able to complete it and the instructor had to bring them back. They were helped on to the platform by the cheerleading team. And congratulated for being brave enough to try. This encouraged others to have a go.

A handful did complete the activity. As each of them returned to the platform, there was a collective shout of achievement. No-one resented their accomplishment. No-one felt unappreciated. It was clear everyone had achieved something worthwhile, as part of the team. 

Because without the cheerleaders and the person who was brave enough to fail first, it is quite possible that no-one would have completed the crossing at all.

International Day of Friendship

That ability to be part of something bigger than ourselves, the innate connection we have with everyone else, is inside all of us. The kindness to support others, and the courage to trust, is part of who we are. 

I think that’s why International Day of Friendship is important. It’s a reminder of everything we can do, and everything we can be, together.

So given the choice of walking with a friend in the dark, or alone in the light, I’m with Helen. I would choose to walk with a friend in the dark. Which would you choose?

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