In a conversation today with a good friend, we landed on an interesting conundrum. I posited that I would rather be average and have friends than really stand out but do so alone. As soon as I said it, I cringed. For me, relationships are key to life; they give context and color and reasons for doing what we do. A solitary existence may offer accolades, but what does it bring to fill the down time and the quiet spaces?

Still, I cringed. I wonder if some talents warrant sacrifice. What if that one thing that someone does better than anyone could be worth enough to the rest of the world that it would be (perhaps) shameful to abandon it. Would we miss medical miracles? Technological triumphs? Eternal enlightenment?

My talents certainly don’t lie anywhere on that grand scale, and still I wonder whether I would actually trade being great for being good. I’ve always been taught to do my very best and to nurture my natural aptitude in order to make it flourish. I teach the same to my children. Pride is part of our culture.

I know that I would never give up a friend to have a talent. I have days, like everyone, when a relationship is the only thing that carries me through. Yet when I look at it from the other direction–would I give up a talent to have a friend–it somehow seems like a different proposition. Maybe the presentation presumes the presence of one and the absence of the other. In that case, what would I do if I had to choose between a talent and a friend? If I had both in front of me and could pick only one? Would pride sway me? I think I know the answer–I think.

Which would you choose? Respect or love?

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