The Beginning in the End

The Beginning in the End

Lent 31-32

 

Things end.  It is an inevitable fact of life.  Yet, in many cultures, death is but a dormant season.  Winter may seem like a period in which things die but in nature, winter is a time of hibernation, a time of rest before the rebirth of a new season, the beginning of a new cycle which has spring from the ending of an old cycle.

 

The cause and effect of the Beatitudes illustrate how in our pain and turmoil, we might consider that we are simply in a period of dormancy, having paused on a landing before continuing on our journey.  The marathon runner knows to pace him or herself because the race is not won at the start but rather at the finish line.  Perhaps we should consider that those periods of season of nonsuccess or non-joy are merely stepping stones towards our ultimate victory.

 

Yesterday was the end of the month of March and today begins the month of April and yet, for many of us, the days were very similar.  One ending swiftly faded into a beginning with little fanfare or change.  Often the transitions in our lives go unnoticed and we neglect to recognize the value of each step along our path.

 

Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne discussed how we determine happiness in our journey in an article for Psychology Today published several years ago.  “In many ways, living in the moment has its benefits. While you’re in the midst of an enjoyable experience, you’re most likely to be tuned into the pleasures signaled by your body’s senses.  By contrast, an experience marked by pain, mishaps, and inconvenience is one you’d just as soon get out of as soon as possible. Even so, after it’s over, many of us forget how badly we felt while it was going on. When pain outweighs pleasure, living in the moment isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. 

 

“As it turns out, many of us are pretty likely to form biased memories of our experiences. The biases can go in both positive and negative directions. According to Nobel-prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, the “peak-end rule” is just one of many errors of judgment that affects the accuracy of our cognitive apparatus. An event makes its mark in our memories more by what happens at its end than at any prior point. In his book, “Thinking Fast and Slow”, Kahneman points out many of the illogical features of our thought processes, including the contrast between our experiences in the moment and the way we remember them.

 

“Studies of happiness in the moment use a method called “experience sampling” in which people provide an instantaneous reading of how they are feeling. New technologies allow researchers to “ping” participants, asking them questions about what they’re doing right now, instead of having them provide recollections at some later point.  For example, German researcher Bettina Sonnenberg and her colleagues (2012) asked participants on their mobile phones to report the activities they were engaging in while pursuing their daily routines. The participants also completed standard survey questionnaires about their use of time. People’s reports through experience sampling were very consistent with surveys that they later completed regarding questions about the amount of time they spent at paid work. However, when participants were asked to estimate how much time they spent in less regular, predictable activities (such as errands or leisure), the survey reports diverged substantially from the moment-to-moment data they recorded through experience sampling.

 

“It’s no surprise that people rate their happiness while having a previous experience higher than they did while going through the experience itself. While you’re in the moment, you are aware of more of the “objective” features of the situation. You may be having your favorite meal, trying to unwind after a stressful day, and although you love the music itself, your mind strays to some of the unpleasant things that happened to you earlier. If we “ping” you to rate your happiness, your rating may reflect not the food you’re trying to enjoy, but the recall of what caused you to feel stressed.

 

“Many studies support the peak-end rule. People will prefer and even choose exposing themselves to more pain (objectively determined) if the situation ends with them feeling less pain.  Think about it this way. If you are having a tooth drilled, you’d find it was less painful if the dentist ends the procedure with some lightening of the drill’s intensity, even if the procedure is longer than it would otherwise be. Counterintuitive? Yes. Common? Definitely.

 

“We approach not only our experiences of pleasure and pain in this way, but also our acquisition of objects that we’re given as gifts. As reported in a review article by Dartmouth psychologist Amy Do and collaborators (2008), participants given free DVD’s were more pleased with the gifts if they received the more popular ones after the less popular ones, then if they received the exact same DVD’s in the opposite order. When it comes to pleasure, it’s all about the ending.”

 

In the Beatitudes, the blessing or happiness is promised in the ending.  We tend to fear endings but, as this research supports, what really matters is not the actual experience but how it ends.  After all, when running up the steps to a monument, the victory comes with the completion of the task, the ending.  This is what gives us a feeling of triumph.  We win because we lived and, having lived, we eagerly await the next new beginning. 

Treasured Lessons

Treasured Lessons

Lent 23, 24, 25

 

I really value the early morning.  Throughout my lifetime I have been surrounded by late sleepers so the early morning was my own personal time and space.  It was as the sun began its ascent with its wisps of color heralding a new day that I would imagine the angels and fates beginning to cross the sky, seeking out souls to bless or offer aid and, perhaps, comfort.  Regardless of what transpired the day or days before, each new morning was a new gift with unexplored treasures to find.

 

Recently I began a new exercise regime and, true to my nature, it starts very early.  I like that the gym is sparsely crowded because then there are few people to rant and rave.  I still value those early morning promises and really dislike it when people want to rehash yesterday’s problems before the sun has settled comfortably in the sky.  This truly is, for me, a day which the Lord (or Spirit) has made and I strongly dislike anyone messing with my morning peace.  Thank heavens for headphones and mP3/iPod players!

 

We talked earlier this week about life being a treasure map that we explore during our lifetime.  The important thing about such explorations is not just the treasure we may be fortunate to unearth but the lessons learned along the path we travel.  I learned early on at the gym that people do not usually want answers or lessons.  They just want to exercise their tongues.  Our lives really deserve more than just hot air.

 

One of the movie’s more famous explorers has been, in the past two decades, the character of Indiana Jones, archaeology professor turned detective, seeking the world’s ancient treasures.  Popular on the big screen, his television counterpart would be Josh Gates but we’ll discuss Josh another time.

 

The perils faced by the fictional Indiana Jones are not uncommon to those faced by actual archaeologists.  (By the way, there is a grave at an Episcopal church in Berlin, MD which bears the name of Indian Jones – a real beloved wife with no connection to either Hollywood or the screenwriters.)  They also give us some brilliant insights in to some real treasures for living, lessons we all could use.

 

Respect might be the most important lesson the Indiana Jones movies teach us.  Respect for each other should be a given and yet, all too often we think in a “me” frame of mind instead of a “we” frame of mind.  Respect for different cultures is also important.  Something might seem weird to us but our ways are also just as weird to someone else.

 

One of Indiana Jones’ shortcomings is to never seem to be adequately prepared for his skirmishes.  If there is a gun fight, he always seems to have only a sword and vice versa.  Life does not come with guarantees and, in spite of a seemingly endless variety, there really are no crystal balls that foretell the future.  What saves Professor Jones is his thinking a problem out and discovering that, as in life, often the answer is a rather simple solution.  We need to expect the unexpected (Indiana Jones is always being chased by something – boulders, screaming tribesmen, even snakes.) and then calmly think of a way to deal with what life has given us.

 

Long ago the wheel was invented, as was fire.  It is perfectly okay for us to draw upon the past and walk the steps of those who have gone before us.  We need to remember to be humble and accept our own shortcomings.  We also need to have the strength to ask for help and admit when we cannot do it all alone.  Sometimes we need to have the strength and courage to think outside of the box. 

 

We need to know where we are and with whom we are traveling.  There is an old saying “don’t play poker with a pickpocket.”  It is good advice, not just for playing cards but for selecting our friends.  Too often we allow people into our inner circle that tear us down instead of building us up.  Friendship is supposed to be a positive thing.  Be very wary of people to whom you are a better friend than they are to you.  We need to often have faith in others but most importantly, have faith in ourselves.

 

Every treasure map seems to lead one to a fork in the road.  “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” begins a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson.  The poem speaks to having the courage to take the right path, even though it is not the popular one.  Not everything that glitters is really gold and sometimes life’s most golden lessons come to us in the most ugly of forms, tattered and torn but very valuable.

 

The treasures we hold dear in life say more about us than they do about themselves.  It is not what we accumulate that will define us as people.  How we have lived and the risks we were willing to take build character.  The well-worm sandals of a traveler are not the glittery, sparkling heels of a model but they do show character and a willingness to live.  They speak of one who has searched for truth and shared smiles along the journey. 

 

My early morning exercises are not just for my physical body; they are for my soul.  The quiet meditative moments of a sunrise will mean very little if I do not share my life.  We need to let go of the grief from yesterday but we also need to hold onto each other.  We need to live not in fear or focusing on troubles but by walking our paths together, listening and sharing respect, peace, and joy.  There is always something new to learn (I Corinthians 13), success to gleam from failures (Philippians 3), and new things to see (Ephesians 1).  On my own personal journey, I need to perhaps unplug in order to really grpw and find my own desired success.  As Philippians 4:14, advises – Share the ride!

Boys and Broccolini

Boys and Broccolini

Lent 13

 

The Beatitudes may seems old and out of date but they are an excellent example of cause and effect, the efficacy or causality that believes one thing had a direct result on the outcome.  While the words of the Beatitudes may seem ancient, their basic construct is used all over the world by parents, politicians, cult leaders, and terrorist factions.

 

Before you get all upset because I put parents in the same grouping as politicians and leaders of terrorist cells, please read on.  When it comes to persuasive speech, they all have a great deal in common.  Many of us from several generations ago were admonished not to make faces or else, we were told, our face would freeze that way.  Another less understood adage was that we were to eat all our vegetables because there were starving children in the world.

 

Writing for the website explorable.com, Martyn Shuttleworth explains why such a persuasive argument is often incorrect and misleading.  “The basic principle of causality is determining whether the results and trends seen in an experiment are actually caused by the manipulation or whether some other factor may underlie the process.  Unfortunately, the media and politicians often jump upon scientific results and proclaim that it conveniently fits their beliefs and policies. Some scientists, fixated upon ‘proving’ that their view of the world is correct, leak their results to the press before allowing the peer review process to check and validate their work.”

 

Growing up in the city Maria was completely out of her element when her family moved to a small town of less than one thousand.  She attended a weekend dance shortly after moving to the area which was held at a community center.  Five days later a classmate sat down beside her at lunch and introduced herself.  “Hi, I’m Priscilla.  My older brother is best friends with Jackley who plays ball with Billy.  His younger brother is in our class because he flunked kindergarten.  His brother is named Logan but he sits on the other side of the room so you might not have noticed him.  He’s best friends with Josh who lives next door to me.  Anyway, Logan told Josh he likes you.  He saw you at the dance, you see.  So, do you like him?”  Lost amid all the names and siblings, Maria smiled hesitantly and replied:  “If he likes me, then he and I should talk about it.”  Priscilla tossed her head backed and turned to the other girls standing around.  “She’s a snob.”  They all left and Maria ate lunch by herself for two weeks.

 

While there was really nothing wrong with Maria’s response, it was that of some a few years older and from a completely different environment than those who had grown up knowing each other.  The cause and effect might indicate that perhaps Maria really was acting like a snob or that the other girls just wanted to gossip.  It might also, depending on how the information was evaluated, indicate that the girls were reaching out to Maria the best way they knew.  We really do not know without more information regarding posture, tone and inflection, etc.  What is clear is that the cause – the professed interest of one boy to the new girl in the class – had a less than desirable effect for all involved.

 

We often make assumptions that may or may not hold true.  Take, for instance, the vegetable broccoli.  It is a member of the cabbage family and can be eaten raw or cooked.  Broccoli rabe and broccolini might be considered parts of the broccoli plant but they are actually different plants entirely.  A lobbyist for a vegetable company might try to persuade politicians to consider substituting one for the other in a school lunch program.  A less than informed populous might think that was okay.  There are differences, though.

 

Broccolini is a natural hybrid of broccoli with Chinese chard.  It gets its length from the chard and smaller florets on top from the broccoli.  Broccoli rabe, however, is more closely akin to the turnip than to broccoli.  Nutritionally, there are great differences.  A serving of broccoli rabe has 144 calories while a serving of broccoli has 31.  Both broccoli and broccolini had over 100% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C but broccoli rabe has 270% for vitamin C.  The eating of one of these three is not the same as the others so the effect on the body nutritionally would vary greatly.

 

It may seem like the Beatitudes are an ancient cause and effect rambling but really, they are as relevant today as they were almost two thousand years ago.  They offer us causality but also a positive effect.  It really depends on our perspective and how willing we are to see the positive.  Maria did eventually become friend with Logan but that was all.  Once the girls realized Maria had already had the chapters they were currently studying and she could help them pass their world geography class, they befriended her.  It took some time and patience and yes, a few tears were shed, but happiness was the final result. 

 

Eating that serving of broccolini may not instantly taste delicious but your body will really appreciate its positive effects.  It is up to us to determine how we approach the causes and subsequent effects in our own lives.  We ultimately have control of our responses and our willingness to wait out the goodness that life can offer.  By defining accurately the causes in our lives and then evaluating the effects and everything influencing them as well as our own responses, we have a much better chance of improving our living.  Today’s chaos might just turn out to be tomorrow’s blessing.

Goodness

Goodness

Lent 1

 

During Lent our series will focus on the Beatitudes, those eight to ten, and in one location, four saying about goodness, happiness and spirituality.  While the basis for this series will be taken from the New Testament, this will not be a purely religious series.  It is a series about goodness and our search for it in an overall sense – goodness of living, of health, of being.  We will delve into such distinction as the difference between a happy person and an optimistic person and there will be, hopefully, a vignette to explain and explore our discussion each day.

 

Most Creation stories open with “In the beginning” and the world seems to have been complete, whole, and happy.  Then something happens and chaos ensues.  While it may seem hard to relate to something like that, most of us experience it every day when we go to check social media.  The science of happiness would tell us that while the caveman did not have a Facebook account and the only twitters he heard or saw were from birds in the trees, he did fall victim to the same social pressures that we do when reading about a friend’s seemingly perfect life.

 

We are all connected and the people in our lives play an important role in the basic goodness we experience and the happiness we feel.  Both of these are contributing factors to our sense of well-being and our actual physical health.  Skeptics argue that optimistic people may not necessarily live longer and we certainly have discussed that topic before.  However, recent scientific research and the resulting evidence indicate that there is a strong link between happiness and health and it goes both ways.

 

Our approach to living is key in our trying to improve our lives and the world.  Being happy will never be as simply as taking a pill and seeing the goodness in life will not be accomplished with an increased prescription for a new pair of glasses.  We can, though, take the wisdom of the ages and look at our own approach to living. 

 

Lent is traditionally a time of introspection and, let’s face it, dreary feelings of guilt and shame.  Our source material is a wonderful way to change that and improve ourselves without beating ourselves up – figuratively or psychologically.  Let’s replace those pounds of guilt with feelings of goodness and happiness!  Life will always be a work in progress.  I hope you join me for this series in making lemonade out of lemons.  Who knows?  We might even find a way to make a lemon tart or pie without fewer calories!

Please Pass the Integrity

Please Pass the Integrity

Epiphany 46

 

There are days when I “window shop” on Google.  I am not really searching for any specific topic so I just stroll through a variety of nouns or verbs or adjectives.  It was on one of these virtual excursions that I came across a question:  “What is it that integrity is a noun and not a verb?”

 

We’ve all been told to be careful what we post and it is a great warning.  After all, once something is on the Internet, it tends to stay.  The Internet is like a computer’s hard drive – very hard to completely erase.  The question I found was posted almost ten years ago and received a variety of answers.  The most interesting was this and yes, I am posting just exactly as it was written – typos and grammatical errors and all: “ I always thought of intergrity to be something that one can have, one can possess etc so that’s why its a noun. Its not something you can hold or touch, but you know it when you see it, or have it. Anyone can act nice, or act as though they are ethical and fair, but its not really who they are. It would take away the depth of the word, just something that anyone could do, like driving a car. Its not that special since just about anyone can do it.”

 

What I find most troubling is that last sentence so I wonder if it bothers you as well.  The implication that integrity is “not that special since just about anyone can do it” is certainly an interesting viewpoint.  And, I confess, one that makes me very sad. 

 

You see, if something that anyone can do is not special then a great many things are included in that viewpoint.  Since anyone can be happy, then being happy or making someone happy would not be “special”.  Since anyone can be excited, then being excited or contributing to someone being or getting excited would not be “special”.  Since anyone can be loved, then loving or making someone feel loved would not be “special”.  I really do not want to exist in a world without happiness, love, or excitement.  Would you?

 

We all have had those times where our world had too much drama but drama is different from excitement.  The feeling we get upon receiving an unexpected surprise or present is excitement.  Having someone tolerate you is very different from being loved.  Experiencing the sheer joy of a beautiful afternoon or symphony or time spent with loved ones creates happiness.  It certainly is better than cleaning the toilet!

 

Integrity is, by the way, something that is far too often in short supply.  It is the sense of fairness and honesty that we all seek.  It is living up to one’s morals and following one’s ideals.  As Harper Lee wrote in “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions… but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

 

The word integrity evolved from the Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete. In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character.  There are many synonyms for the word “integrity” but it does not exist in an adjective or verb form.  While that may not make sense, it actually does to me. 

 

When we live with honor and steadfastness, being honest to that which we profess to believe, we are truly being true to ourselves and whole to our visions of life.  We are, in the very best sense, living.  At some point, the emphasis on living shifted from being complete to being trendy.  We stopped asking ourselves is this what I want to be and settled for being what everyone else wanted to be.  We stopped listening to our conscience and became blind followers to the “crowd” we shoes to follow.

 

Albert Einstein once said of integrity that “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters”.  Perspective is vital but in the final analysis, truth is just that – truth, accurate, verifiable fact.  Integrity has nothing to do with status or one’s address, clothing or the number of letters after one’s name.  It is living a truthful life.  It may not have a verb form but it encompasses many.

 

How we live the next twenty-four hours is up to us.  Will we live it with integrity?  If so, it will be a very special twenty-four hours indeed.  Remember, before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

Love

Love

Epiphany 40

 

Today is, if I have scheduled these post correctly, not just the fortieth day in the season known as Epiphany, it is also Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day is, in many locations on and off this planet, the day for celebrating love.  Love truly is a verb although we tend to think of it only as a noun.  During this series we are discussing verbs and the actions they represent, actions that might make our lives a bit better.  On this day is there a better time to remember that love is a verb, something we can do and just hope to receive?  Can living better really be as simple as loving better?   After all, as one 1960’s popular song advised, “all you need is love.”

 

The man who would become known as Saint Valentine, in whose honor gifts and cards are given on this day in the name of love, is considered a third century Saint and yet, his Saint Day does not appear on the Roman Catholic’s Church’s General Calendar and when this Saint Day was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I the man known as Saint Valentine was among all those “… whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.”

 

Historians now believe there were actually three Valentines.  Being a common name which meant powerful, one of these men named Valentine was a Roman priest, another the bishop of Interamna now known as modern Terni in Italy.   Both are buried along the Via Flaminia outside Rome, at different distances from the city. The third is said to be a saint who suffered on the same day with a number of companions in the Roman province of Africa, and nothing else is known of his life.

 

Love seems to be just as elusive and illusionary as the holiday.  While the day celebrates our love for each other, we first must love ourselves before sharing love.  In order to do that, we need to go back a couple of days to the blog post entitled “Befriend” and become our own best friend.  We all have that voice of conscious in our heads and that voice can be a positive thing at times.  However, friends not only remind you when you stray off your chosen path, they also build you up and our inner voice needs to that friend as well. 

 

Environment should not be overlooked.  “Location, location, location” is a popular phrase in real estate but it is true for our own self-love as well.  We need positive people in our lives, not depressed, envious people who only destroy any sense of positive self-love we might possess.  We need to walk through supportive friends in our daily living, friends that will help us formulate and then build our vision for the rest of our lives.  This is the only way to make our dreams become a reality.

 

We need to live authentically and truly live what we are inside.  This means developing a plan and then following it to achieve our dreams.  It also means giving ourselves time and space to accomplish those goals and dreams.  Declutter your life and clean up your life – throw away the baggage from the past to make room for the future.  Making our bodies and our home space a priority is actually a luxury but even in dire circumstances, it can happen.  A refugee camp showed people living in tents made from discarded clothing.  In one such tent some string had been strung with metal bottle caps hanging.  Even in this environment of misery and uncertainty, the breeze would turn this string and metal trash into a wind chime, a respite for all within hearing distance.

 

The human spirit should be celebrated every day but on this day in which we take time to share love, remember to love your own self.  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  Martin Luther King was speaking not only to the crowd before him but to each individual about their own life. 

 

I wish love to you all, both for another person but also of yourself.  Educator Dr. William Purkey gave us the best lesson plan for doing this:  “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching.  Love like you’ll never be hurt.  Sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.”

 

 

Befriend

Befriend

Epiphany 38

 

My dear,

You cannot have true friends if you are manipulative. You cannot have friends if you are always a taker and not a giver.  The only way to have a friend is to be one.  The only way to have a friend who is open and honest is to first be open and honest.  There are no shortcuts when it comes to true friendships.

Falsely yours,  Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

It might behoove some of us to remember this brief note written by Emerson when it comes to electing our officials.  Each year someone is running for office and to do that, they must appear to be our friends.  But what exactly is a friend?  Clearly the man recently elected as President of the USA does not qualify as he has not been open and honest about divesting his businesses not even his taxes which, now that he is elected will become a matter of public record on April 15th.

 

A 2013 BBC article illustrated how primates select friends.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I said primates and will now remind you that humans are indeed primates.  And we are not that different from our ape cousins when it comes to friendship.  The process has more complexity than imagines and less honor.

 

Reporting for the BBC, Jason Goldman wrote:  ““Friendship,” wrote CS Lewis, “is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You, too? Thought I was the only one.’” He wasn’t the only one. Plato wrote “similarity begets friendship” in his 360 BCE play Phaedrus. And Aristotle had the same idea when he wrote, “some define it as a matter of similarity; they say that we love those who are like ourselves.”

 

Goldman continued:  “Friendships blossoming on the basis of similar ideas, outlooks or tastes may seem intuitive, but that intuition is deceiving. Most friendships develop between people who are not family members or sexual partners, so friendship can’t be explained on the basis of genetic or reproductive interests. Instead, evolutionary biologists have typically relied on a tit-for-tat process known as reciprocal altruism to explain friendship: you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.  The problem, however, is that social psychologists have discovered that people do not maintain mental ledgers of favors given and received. Primatologist Joan Silk described the riddle of friendship neatly: “reciprocity and equity are important among friends, but tit-for-tat reciprocity is antithetical to the formation and maintenance of close friendship. If these seemingly contradictory claims are correct, then friendship presents a puzzle for evolutionary analysis.

 

Goldman also included in his report studies on marine mammals and how they formed friendships, studies that resulted in conflicting theories.  Then he returned to research conducted with people.  “ In an experiment conducted by psychologists Peter DeScioli and Robert Kurzban in 2009, human participants created a list of their ten closest non-family friends, and ranked them according to closeness. They were then asked to imagine that they had one hundred points to distribute among those ten friends.  When the experiment participants were told that their distributions would be public knowledge, they doled out points fairly. Each friend received, on average, ten points. However, if the participants were told that their distributions would remain confidential, their allocations were less uniform. The best friend got the most points, followed by the second best friend, then the third, and so on. As social creatures with reputations to maintain, humans are acutely aware of the way that their behavior might be viewed by others. So… people rewarded their closest friends when they could get away with it, but strived to appear fair when under public scrutiny.

 

“DiScioli and Kurzban point out that despite the fact that the US traded with China over three times more than with the UK in 2006, the UK is far more likely to be described as a “friend” of America. They suggest that if “friendships are like international alliances, then friendship will not be well-explained by exchanges of benefits.  Friendships might serve as a strategic mechanism for maintaining a support system in advance of potential future conflicts. “Human conflicts are usually decided,” they explain, “by the number of supporters mobilized on each side (rather than strength or agility).”

 

Goldman came to these conclusions.  “So perhaps friendship only seems a riddle because if we were explicit about the transactional nature of our alliances, their strength would falter. In other words, we might like to make grand claims that friendships are without agenda, but that doesn’t necessarily mean this is the case.”

 

Now if this is confusing, relax.  Befriending someone can be as simple as treating them the way you would want to be treated.  In other words, greet them pleasantly and ask how they are.  Offer a smile and hug when needed.  Listen when they speak and encourage them in all their efforts.  While reciprocity and equity are important among friends, the best thing you can offer is a smile and a bit of time that lets someone know they not only are visible, they are important.