A wise friend once told me that there are two types of people in our lives. There are basement people and there are balcony people. She explained that the basement people are the ones who pull you down in life and the balcony people are the ones who lift you up. If one person is down in a hole (the basement), basic laws of physics make it easier for them to pull you into their hole than for you to lift them out of it. Yes I know that variables apply but, generally speaking, the latter is more difficult. It is especially challenging if you are not doing your part to help them. Making little hops, holding on tightly, etc. Stick with me, for this is going somewhere. This metaphor is a fairly simple illustration of how the people around us can drive our moods, actions and attitudes. As this truth clarified itself for me several years ago I made a conscious decision to increase the number of balcony people in my life and to reduce the number of basement people. Sounds a little harsh doesn’t it? Sounds shallow right, because maybe those people are simply your cross to bear. Maybe feeling mildly unsettled in their presence is your duty? The prospect really makes you squirm a bit doesn’t it? Do you know why? Because the basement people in our lives are usually those who are the closest to us. They are (yikes!) family. They are (horrors!) love interests. They are (tough one!) coworkers or (awkward!) lifelong friends. They are those people whose mere presence brings a little sinking feeling to your mood. Their name on caller ID sends a tiny shiver down your spine. An innocent mention of their name stops you in your tracks but you cannot really define why. Being with them feels like homework and when they enter your thoughts you can just hear the Debbie Downer music start to play. Waa-WAAAA. You know the people I am talking about. On paper, you would be challenged to justify why they do this to you but they do. They bring a shadow into your mood and make you doubt your own potential. They eat up your time and your thoughts. They are emotional vampires. These are the basement people.
Then there are the balcony people. They are the ones who make you feel a little lighter, a little happier, a little smarter and a little more fascinating. When you know you will see them soon you have a little more spring in your step. You blossom in their presence and there is never even a hint of heaviness in your heart when they enter a room. They require nothing from you and simply shower you with optimism. Often, they are smarter than you, more attractive than you, speak more languages than you and are more creative than you. They don’t have time or interest in anything negative. They do not gossip or even drop a snippet of a mean spirited comment about others, and they seem to be totally unconcerned about them selves. They say gentle things and even if they are sad, they treat it philosophically. This too shall pass…much for which to be grateful…..when God closes a door blah blah blah. The balcony people will poke fun at them selves but never at anyone else. They don’t feel the need to compete with you, but they simply seem to take delight in your company. You owe them nothing. These are the people by whom I not only want to be surrounded, but whom I want to be like.
So for 2012, I plan to put more balconies in my life and fill them with people. As for the basement people, I will give them a little bit of my time, only kind words and my prayers, but I will not turn my days and my thoughts over to them. They have enought to deal with simply by virtue of living in a basement.