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10 September 2000

Today is a perfectly gorgeous day. The sun is warm, the air is cool and dry and sweet-- speaking of which, you should see Sweet's Meadow. It's full of golden rod and it is beautiful. It's been a long time since I've seen the golden rod so golden, and when the wind stirs it--! And if you think it's beautiful under the sun, you should see it at dawn and at dusk and under the moon: beautiful enough to break your heart.

Anyway, it's a gorgeous day. I felt great when I got up, and so I decided to return Joyce's call. Joyce and I have been best friends for a million years now. We don't see each other often, and we don't call or write often, either. We tend get in touch when one or the other of us is either very happy or very confused or very depressed. I mean, who else would you call in those circumstances but your best friend, right? Right. So, a little while ago, when I found myself feeling particularly and inexplicably happy, I wrote to Joyce, and then she called me and left a message Friday...

I always look forward to talking with my best friend. And this time I had a lot to tell her about. My work at the JCBL where I meet people from all over the world, the golden rod in Sweet's Meadow, the mist on the water, the heron with the wings the color of the concord grapes-- the t'ai chi instructor with eyes the color of sky and water, and the chi that I can see and that makes me feel drunk...

Whenever we talk, whatever the occasion, we laugh a lot, and we always end up feeling better--

Except sometimes.

Is there any worse downer under the sun than having a good friend, one who knows you very, very well, talk practical good sense to you-- and be right? The answer is no. If you want to keep flying, if you want that intangible magic to last, if you want to keep the dream of hope alive, don't, for heaven's sake, don't ever tell your best friend about what's making you feel so good. You see, best friends know you, and they know all your little foibles, and self-delusions, and when you start sailing off into the wild blue on your happy cloud, they shoot you down in no uncertain terms.

And that's what a best friend is for. If she let you keep deluding yourself, she wouldn't be your best friend.

Today Joyce talked me down. And she's right. I'm a fool. The highs I've been experiencing are just chemical reactions, natural phenomenon, triggered by arbitrary factors like the length of the days, hormones, blood sugar levels, ozone levels, humidity, moonlight, the smell of concord grapes in the sun-- what have you-- endorphins released by unaccustomed physical exercise. The heron is just a heron, and no one has eyes the color of sky and water, and there isn't any chi. There's nothing real behind the feelings. How could there be? It's all just-- just...

It's real. It's all real, and it's... magic.

One of these days I'm going to crash, really crash. It's inevitable. What goes up, must come down. Then I'll call Joyce again, and she'll make me laugh. See, Joyce understands about magic, too. She's my best friend. She doesn't expect me to just let it go. No way. She knows me too well.

And Joyce'll be there for me when I crash. That's what best friends are for.


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