It has been months since I spent time across the table, chatting with my friend Sallie Halsey. Months since we laughed at the silliness of things, cracked a couple of dirty jokes and sought faith in each other when we thought the world just might have run out of it. That's a lot of days since we last shared a coffee and our lives with each other, a tragic commonality in an age where everything gets faster and more convenient; we forget that hearts and relationships cannot be sped up but must grow like trees.
It's also been a year since Sallie and I became friends. I remember last January when we would stand out by the parking lot for a networking event, guiding cars and just talking. No sales, no business, just two people in the cold chatting away to pass the time. What I never told Sallie at the time is that those moments inspired 100 Connections, led me down this path and, very realistically, saved my life.
The truth of the matter is that, in a very dark time in my life, I just needed a friend...and Sallie Halsey was just that.
The most beautiful gift you can give someone is to see them for who they are, absent of judgements and nitpicks, and allow them the space to be that person. As I sit across from my friend sipping coffee, I feel that familiar gaze of the person who like Matt just for being Matt. I am no titan, no god, no beggar, just a person in all of their flawed beauty with all of their accompanying baggage. If you have ever sat at a table, stood around at an event or had any other cause to speak with Sallie, you have felt that same look, that same acceptance.
I want to tell you it is common, but it is a precious treasure all the more rare than I would like.
We talk about our lives and catch up. She tells me about her work, about the exciting things happening and her dreams for a new year. I tell her about the my dreams, my commitments and new projects in the works. We laugh, smile and sit in the warmth of a crowded coffee shop on a Monday morning, blissfully isolated from the early grind of most people's weeks. Sallie asks me how I am doing, in response to a bout with depression I dealt with as the new year came in. I tell her I'm better, talk about all of the good things that have helped me through and she smiles, the slightest of smiles, the one that a friend gives when they are both happy you are okay, but sad that you suffered.
Coffee drains away, the room warms and we talk about friendship, about helping and investing in other people, about all the time we waste. There is so much time we waste giving into our unhappiness or the things others do that bother us, so much emotional rent given to others instead of to the people we care about. Someone hurts us, whether major or minor, and we feed that wound, pick at it until we make it a nice deep scar, then we stare at it in the mirror.
Sallie and I talk about moving forward with the positive, about how we both work harder and harder on this. We share our imperfections because they are a part of who we are; it's what friends do.
I talk to Sallie about how she loves networking. I talk to her about the parts of it I don't like, the negative hit and run sales, the people who talk about relationships yet look the other way when you need help. The same unpleasant things we all hate at a networking event. She doesn't like them either, but she loves helping people and building authentic relationships so she finds her way through the garbage to the diamonds buried in it. Something I have always loved about Sallie is her ability to wipe the mud off her brow and smile as she moves forward; the true strength of someone who can have anything they want in life. Of this I have no doubt.
Have you ever met someone who will do something great, you just don't know what it is?
That's Sallie. There is something in her smile and the sparkle in her eye that just tells you she has a vision of the future only she sees. I smile when I think about where my friend might be in one year, five or even ten. We throw the term "badass" around a lot in entrepreneurial circles, so much so that it probably loses its meaning. As we chat and laugh I have a thought, I will replace the term "badass" with an alternative; Sallie.
We wrap up our time together in a bittersweet admission that the week does indeed have to begin. Walking out to our cars we plan for watching the AFC Championship game together, where her Patriots will play my beloved Chiefs, and wish each other well in the coming weeks. I feel charged and ready for a new day of triumphs and trials after this much needed time with my friend.
A year ago I needed a friend, just someone who would accept me for who I was and let me be authentic and vulnerable. I got so much more in Sallie Halsey, more than I actually have the words to express here. Still, I feel like I should try. How do you string words together to express the role of someone in your life, to translate a feeling into language? Let's take a stab at it.
I have travelled all over the world, seen all kinds of amazing things, and yet this morning, in a crowded coffee shop, I got to spend time with a rare light, a person with a destiny so bright I need to look away at times even if I don't want to. Sallie Halsey is my friend, much more than the one I just needed, she is the one who made such a change in my life I will always be grateful.
Thank you, Sallie.
Thank you to everyone who changes the world for one person in this way.
Favorite Dinosaur: Spinosaurus
Why: They are badass like a T Rex, but it has these awesome spines and longer arms making it a bigger badass. Plus it straight beat the T Rex in one of the Jurassic Park movies.