Happy Friday all! I must diverge from my “Shimmer” story. I can’t seem to find the file where Etta and Milly met. I spent an hour last night going through 2 backup disks. And no go… now, my only option is the original notes.
Until then… I did find this article I wrote for a friend some years ago. It was intended to be an introduction to her book about friendship. And there is another version from that perspective, but I prefer this one. I hope you like it too!
The Myth of Friendship Copyright© T. Riggs 2016
Friendship can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. One person might call everyone they meet and converse with on a relatively regular basis, a friend. Others might have more strict requirements and have explanations that fall more under ‘confidant’ or in chick speak ‘BFF’. Somehow all of these definitions fall under the general explanation of friendship. It’s confusing to try and pinpoint an exact definition of ‘friend’ or ‘friendship’… as Joseph Epstein points out, through various historical and literary venues, in Friendship: an Expose. Friendship, therefore, is a term not easily defined. For that matter, neither is faith, God, existence or even love.
At the start of this, I must admit that I had the sinking suspicion that it would be difficult to find a real, definitive, explanation of friendship… but nonetheless, I looked. I consulted experts in the field, pondered theories, considered my own personal experiences and ultimately, I’ve decided that we may as well discuss less ethereal topics such as the purpose and meaning of life or whether, as some physicists posit, this existence is merely a holographic image projected from some faraway, more real, existence in the cosmos. (I’m of the personal opinion that those poor souls need to step out of the lab now and again and breathe the fresh air and take a long stroll through reality.)
Social Theory and its continuous search for measurable knowledge add to the confusion in defining ‘friendship’. This is because few if any of the studies, none of which I have as of yet found, pin down how each individual respondent defines friendship before asking them questions like “how many friends do you have?” Thus we get views that there are friend gatherers and friend followers, et al. While some truth exists in all of these ‘well-supported with statistics’ theories, as with all myths, it is only a grain of truth and the rest is a lot of subjective points of views and, at the risk of sounding argumentative, posturing.
Of the three books I read (and the ones I skimmed through), the common theme was one of egotism. All are written from the perspective of ‘me’ rather than ‘us’. Even though many were quick to point out that it takes two to be friends, the focus is primarily on, well, you or in the more accusatory ones, them. Other books, like Life is Friends, by Jeanne Martinet are wonderful sources for friendship etiquette and have great advice on how to make and keep friends. The former can be entertaining and self-affirming, but for the most part, enabling. The latter can help those of us that have found ourselves on the failing side of friendship and want to fix things. All of them can be mildly depressing. Especially if you find yourself nearing any major milestone without an entourage due to either lack of skill, too much mobility, or some other fault of the fates.
There is one major theme reigning in the void that friendship books leave: In search of ‘friendship’; beware those dreaded hyphenated multi-syllable words: self-congratulatory, self-righteous, self-absorbed. This is the belief that you are the perfect friend and everyone else should take notes. We all have a blind spot for our own faults. Yes, even I suffer from this human ailment. A point-of-view is required in the jungle, where you can’t risk wondering for even a second if that tiger is hungry, territorial or merely eyeing that shiny bit of string you found and wove into your loin cloth*.
Say this three times and the next actualization will hurt less: “Disney was wrong. There is no prince charming. There is no fairy godmother. The best rescuer of yourself is YOU.” And here’s the whopper: “there’s no such thing as friendship”. Disney, while being a marketing genius and giving us lovely diversions throughout our childhood, really offers nothing of substance to adults. While it is fun to just ‘believe’… face it, Prince Charming strays often enough to visit the chamber maid. The fairy godmother, well, the hologram theory seems more real than her… And the best rescuer really is YOU.
Accountability is the key… be aware of your actions, own them… don’t go around slinging clubs and expect everyone to say, “Oh that’s just Jane, she so loves to destroy things!” Friends, in whatever fashion or definition, come and go. Life goes on and we should make the best of our holographic existence in the friendship realm, because friendship, along with all those other vague human concepts like love, faith and belief really is a projection of our minds onto the situation. If we are lucky enough to have the other party in agreement, then we have something resembling reality. And in that case: Hang on to them for dear life, because true ones are few and far between.
*Disclaimer: this particular sentence seems too good to be true (i.e. “did I really write that?!”). If it resembles any previous, equally witty observations — I humbly apologize… words are like music, occasionally the same melody turns up in the oddest places.