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On (Un)Lasting Friendships

April 23, 2012

December 30th, 2011 12:19am

“Sometimes, the things you want the most don’t happen, and what you least expect happens. I don’t know – you meet thousands of people and none of them really touch you. And then you meet one person and your life is changed forever.” – Jake Gyllenhaal as Jamie Randall in Love and Other Drugs

I guess I can interpret this quote as something more of a romantic nature, but I’m not going to do that. Instead, I am going to approach it from a different angle, one of friendship.

Yesterday, I had a long talk with a friend, and during this long talk, we both felt as though we had reached a new level in our friendship. I don’t know whether or not he was holding back, but I know that I was being as honest as my will allowed me to be. I pushed myself to say things that I normally would not say – things that I feared would hurt his feelings.

You see, it is always hard for me to voice my concerns to others.

It is hard because I feel as though it is not my place to say anything about any thing. It is not any of business. Though I have standards, and I judge according to these standards, I know that my standards may be flawed. So it is for this reason that I do not say a word – not even one. Because really, who am I to say something?

I also don’t say much about other people’s decisions/actions because I do not want to hurt their feelings. But I guess sometimes, feelings must be hurt if it means that things will turn out for the better. Still, I am uncomfortable at the idea of saying something rather than nothing. After all, I could be wrong.

But anyway, I realized many things during the talk that I had with my friend yesterday.

They say that you cannot trust anybody but yourself. Of course, there are variations of this saying. Some may even say that you cannot even trust yourself. Sometimes I feel this way. Sometimes, I feel as though I cannot even trust myself. Generally though, I have not given much thought to this saying until, well, now. I’ve always thought that there were some people that I could always trust – those few of which, without, I could never imagine my life. But things have changed over the last two years. People have changed – I have changed. My friend said that I have become more serious; my roommate, M, had also said this once to me. I know that I have become more serious, but this is just who I am now. These people… they were puzzle pieces that came together to complete me. Without them, I was just an awkward piece that couldn’t fit into the picture anywhere. But as the days go by, and I sit and ponder the thoughts of th’morrow, I have realized that eventually, all things fade away – all things good and all things bad. Friendships are broken, people die, all there is left is the memory of what was. But even memories fade.

Humans are such interesting creatures. We are so incredibly complex that even we don’t have ourselves figured out, let alone have others figured out. We’ve built up this world of structures and put ourselves in these boxes – boxes for others to analyze us in, boxes for us to analyze ourselves in.

Because this way, things are easier.

Within these structures and boxes, there are things that we do, and do simply because we are humans. We eat, and drink, and love, and hate. We sleep, and dream, and fantasize, and regret things. We gossip and purposely deceive others. We feel passion, and outrage, and hope, and fear. We set goals and either achieve them or break them.

We make commitments and either achieve them or break them.

Humans are amazing creatures. We have the ability to imagine impossible things; we can conceive of a world of contradictions. We make it possible to conjure things up out of thin air.

What amazes me most is human’s ability to form relationships with others. We can form them easily with just a smile, a handshake, or a spoken word. Just as easily, we can break them, with a frown, a wave goodbye, or an unspoken word. Over the last while, I have come to realize what little friendships I have, and what they mean to me.

I must warn you that I am quite a severe person. Or well, that I have become quite a severe person. I am quite severe in my thinking and the way I do things. In this way, I am most certainly stubborn, and though I try very hard to see it another way, I am exclusively narrow-minded. Naturally then, my definition of “friendship” is somewhat severe. I have been constantly trimming down my list of friends for some time now, and I have noticed that as my list gets shorter, my list of acquaintances finds new additions. I am quite okay with this though, for I pity the fool who does not surround himself with people to exchange polite words with now and then.

Yesterday, I asked my friend if it had ever occurred to him that we might not be friends ten years from now, when we all have families of our own. Ten years from now, when we all have our own families, we may be too busy for our friends. Ten years from now, everyone we know now may be considered as people we once knew. That person who we used to call up everyday in high school becomes that person who would, one day, randomly, out of the blue, enter our thoughts. That person who used to be our “other half” in university becomes that person who we’d run into at the grocery store and don’t even recognize. As we grow older, friendships become more about convenience. Suddenly, our friend is the sixty-something year-old neighbour, the clerk at the gas station who sees us regularly during his graveyard shift, and the old lady at the corner store who doesn’t charge us tax.

Yesterday, I told my friend that very few friendships last forever, but this is fine. This does not make me upset. Strangely, it gives me this settling feeling. It is as though I know something that few others do. I give thanks that I am not among those who utter the words “friends forever”. In the 17th Century, Ben Jonson wrote in “Ode on Cary and Morison” about how it is not about how long one’s life is, but instead, it is about what one does with one’s life while one still has it. I told my friend that in the same way, it is not about how many friendships one has or how long those friendships last. Instead, it is about what one does with that friendship while one still has it.

I feel as though I had lost a very close friend to me yesterday. But it’s okay, because now, I can truly understand and realize the greatness of our friendship.

Forever just doesn’t mean the same anymore. But that’s fine, because we don’t need forever anyway.


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