Here is a photo of my old friend Sharda and me taken earlier this month. We’ve known each other for such a long time, through many travels and changes for both of us. When the photo was taken we’d almost finished teaching a retreat together at Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA. The smiles show our triumph and relief, as well as how lucky and privileged we both felt to be where we were. I clearly recall the hug–sensing her ribs, breathing in the curve of my left arm. When I think of all the old and newer trusted friendships in my life, I feel lucky, even blessed. This is probably the greatest change since Sharda and I first met–call it contentment, or a growing acceptance of our humanity. I’m no longer scared to smile so broadly that my face might look fat.