Simone Graham, my editor, put these two spectacular words together in her motivational talk from the momondays London stage at WFR District’s Carousel Lounge this week.
To begin, let’s define “symbiosis”. From Webster’s: “the intimate association of two dissimilar organisms from which each organism benefits”.
Do you have a sister? Are you male? Do you have a brother? Well, you’re in luck: it doesn’t matter if you’re male, female, or whether you have a brother or sister. You just need to be alive. Once you do that, you can find someone else on the planet who is alive, and then you can create an intimate relationship with that other “organism”, defined by Webster’s as “any living being”.
So, I guess, technically, you don’t even need to choose a person, you could choose an animal, like a dog, a cat, a budgie, just pick a living being that you can have an intimate relationship with. And let’s go with Webster’s light definition of “intimate”, which is “being on familiar, especially affectionate, personal terms”. The hi-test definition is “having illicit sexual relations”, which has no bearing on this discussion.
I actually have a sister, Jana. Interestingly, she was the catalyst for my first introduction to “sexual relations”, but not the “illicit” kind. I was eight-years-old when my parents conceived her, and my mother, being open-minded and forward-thinking, saw this as a great opportunity to ditch the bedtime fairy tales and start Rita’s sex education with illustrated books from the library. I didn’t fully comprehend everything, but at least I had a heads up, knew my mom was a thing called “pregnant” and could tell my girlfriend that the stork most definitely did not bring her new identical twin brothers!
But, let’s get back to sisterhood, or brotherhood even. If you have a sibling, you will no doubt fight with that organism from time to time, usually for parental attention, but since you shared a womb and share, on average, half of your DNA (100% if you’re identical twins), you’ll no doubt benefit from your relationship with that dissimilar being.
The benefits I’ve received from Jana over the years? Besides the confusing (at the time) sex education? I learned responsibility, how to be a mini-parent, babysit. Babysitting was my first job and I saved $13.95 so that I could buy my first pair of jeans, which were Lee’s. Levi’s were $16.95, and that extra $3 proved elusive.
Then Jana grew up, married a man closer to my age, had two beautiful children, and now she and I enjoy a warm adult sister relationship, not unlike our mother and her sister had. We share our homes, meals, entertainment events, fitness, holidays, books, philosophies and so much more.
And “sisters” beyond family? You know the old saying, right? You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friends off the back of the couch? Well, it goes something like that, doesn’t it? But, wait a second! You can – and need to sometimes – pick your friends, your “sisters” and “brothers”, right off the back of the couch, like a booger, if they’re stuck there, hiding.
I thought about this yesterday, when I met my Jazzerbuddy, Les, for brekkie.
“I was looking at old family pictures over the Easter weekend,” I said. “Remember when Hugh died? I didn’t think I’d be able to concentrate enough to teach Jazzercise again. But no! You. You kept calling. ‘I’m teaching in Woodstock,’ you said. ‘I’ll pick you up. I’ll bring Tims.’ You were relentless. And I can see, from my pictures, that I’m so happy – and healthy – because I have Jazzercise in my life.”
And then, later in the day? I’m at my desk, working, and Deb texts.
“Hey wanna drive up to the bend (Grand Bend) with me?”
“Dang,” I text. “Wish I knew sooner. I must stay at my desk though. Enjoy!”
Deb: “I just found out no why cant you come?” Then: “:(((”
I can’t stand it. One of my sisters with a super sad face. Me: “R u picking me up?”
So, of course, there we were, playing hooky, me from writing, her from painting, just like years ago, after Hugh died and she picked me off the back of my couch and taught me how to be single again.
I guess what I’m saying is that, whether you’re related to your sisters or not, sometimes you’re the nose, in control, smelling things. And sometimes you’re the booger, stuck, not looking so pretty.
If you maintain symbiosis with the sisters and brothers in your life, you’ll all be smelling pretty again in no time.