Monday, July 12, 2010

The Language Of Friendship

The language of Friendship is not words but meanings
                                                                
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
I had an interesting discussion with the missus earlier today on the topic of friendship.
She has few and regards them highly. The relationship she has with her closest friends is almost as tightly-knit as the those she has with her sisters.
I, on the other hand, have many friends; but I do occasionally allow one into my inner sanctum.

It took me some time to figure out why I didn't subscribe to the idea of a "best friend", but the epiphany when it finally struck me was akin to walking through a dense rain-forest and suddenly finding a sunlit clearing; a moment of enlightenment almost.

From as far back as I can remember, about as far back as my earliest school days, my folks would move house or town more often than most kids would regard as being normal.
If they didn't move house, or move towns, they would move me from my school and i'd have to learn to make new friends all over again. This went on almost every year until I graduated from school. The reality was that I had never been in the same school for longer than 2 years at most.
The downside is pretty obvious. Never in one place long enough to develop a childhood bond with friends; never given the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with my peers; always feeling unsettled and in a constant state of "New Kid Syndrome."
The upsides were not evident at first. It was really only during my analysis of my schooling and upbringing that I realised certain things, both positive and negative.
The constant change of schooling environment allowed me to interact with a larger range of personalities over a shorter period of time; it forced me to make friends sooner than most kids, as they usually knew each other from having been together the year before; and so it was that I found myself able and capable of entering a room full of strangers and leaving shortly thereafter with a pocketful of new friends.
I find it amazingly easy to make new friends. Conversation comes easily to me, it really does.

The human psyche being what it is, it also made me realise the futility of getting too close or forming too strong a bond with any of these new-found friends, since I never expected to be around them the following year.
This meant I had to learn to detach myself from people on a regular basis, and learn to be totally comfortable with the consequences.
I never had a best friend growing up. Sure I had friends I got close to, but never one close enough that the potential for detachment strayed too far away from the recesses of my mind.

Over the years I would find myself testing this resolve, and free-wheeling as I experienced levels of friendship I had never felt before. Issues of trust, loyalty and honour would constantly come into question, and I would learn to deal with them at an age when most guys had formed unbreakable  bonds with their inner circle already.
The very first time I called someone my best-friend felt weird to me.
But I laughed about it when he moved abroad a few months later.
The next time I referred to someone as my best-friend, I ended up moving towns shortly thereafter.
Third time lucky I hoped, and my latest best-friend passed away in a car accident!
True-story.

By this point I had lost all faith in the "best-friend" ideology.

This is the reason I continue to make friends very easily, but i'm extremely wary once in a friendship. I'm always looking out for signs of disloyalty, deceit or distrust.
As soon as I spot it, I head for the hills and never look back.

The missus can never understand why I can so easily walk away from a friendship i've invested months or even years in.
The truth is, i've been programmed to do exactly that as a defense mechanism from being disappointed by a friend.

Sure it's a cold hard way of looking at life.
But sometimes we are the sum of our parts, and our parts are never the same as those of others.
We don't always see the same things in the same way.

My favourite author says it best ...


On Friendship
 Kahlil Gibran
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.


When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay."
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.


And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.