On The Nature of Friendship (Part II)

This entry was posted by on Friday, 27 February, 2009 at

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will provide brothers suitable to fellowship with him.”
— Gen 2.18

I was asked once (well probably more than once, really) what someone could do “as a friend” to help me. I do not remember what I said. (I think you said, “Buy my CD.) No I didn’t. I probably said that I would let them know, and then never did. [Although in thinking about it, I realize that there is actually a surprising amount of depth in that seemingly flippant answer. I do not want to get into it just now, other than ask you to imagine that I had phrased the same idea slightly differently, “Show me that you appreciate my music.”]

As to the topic at hand, I keep coming back to the person I consider to be the best friend I ever had. Back in high school, I had a friend who, if she perceived that I had something on my mind, (something that, knowing me, I was most likely trying to conceal) then she would not rest until she had extracted it. I can not say that I appreciated it at the time; I once got so angry that I threw her out of the house. (Or so I was told, as I was actually so angry that I could not remember the details afterward. Impressive, really.) It was some years after we had gone our separate ways in life before I realized that someone like me really needs someone like that.

Certainly I meet people from time to time that ask a lot of questions. But I usually interpret such people as just being nosy, like they only want an answer so that they can check off that box, not because they actually care what the answer might be. No, what I am looking for is someone who is not necessarily naturally inclined to ask the tough questions, but who cares enough to step out of the comfort zone.

My, aren’t we picky?…And why the hell should anyone do that for you? I do not want to say that I do not care about anyone, because I think that, on rare occasions, I will do something that shows I care. But regardless, I am really not involved in anyone else’s life.

Sometimes I get to a point where I am absolutely going out of my mind struggling with some issue, and I will finally break down and call someone up and we will meet so that I might unburden myself. Although I feel much better afterward, those relationships never actually seem to be any deeper after that. I have actually done this several times and I do not think it has ever been the same person twice. More importantly, I have never been that person to anyone else. No one has ever called me up to say, “I’m going out of my mind and you’re the only one who I think would understand.” Maybe it is just because most people do not let things get that bad before doing something about it. Yet even when people do share serious things, I rarely (if ever) feel as though I am the first to know.

I write this blog and I generally expect people to read it. Yet I do not read anyone else’s blog, and, well I do not even know what this “twitter” thing is exactly. When I started blogging years ago, there were a few other blogs that I followed, but I gradually gave up on each of those as they began posting even less frequently than I did. I still check in every once in a while if I happen to think of it, but that is rare. Some other people have blogs that I have looked at when first brought to my attention but never went back. Sometimes someone will mention that they have a blog but do not mention the address, in which case I assume that they do not actually want me to read it. Though now that I think about it, maybe they just want to see if I care enough to ask. Does anyone out there have a blog that they want me to read?

I blog to be honest, to show a side of myself that I can not show in person. I blog to connect with people. After all this time, it was not until last week that I realized that that really does not work at all. It might make sense as a starting point, and I think part of my motivations in the beginning was to start conversations and discussions. Yet when people leave comments, I either do not respond at all, or else respond in a way that does not encourage further discussion. I tried last week to be more intentional about responding to comments, but I still think it probably came off as condescending. As for private conversations, it is rare that I even admit to having a blog, and I am extremely reluctant to discuss any particular topic in depth. Why is that? I guess it is because the “right” people just never ask the “right” questions.

I simply do not try very hard at maintaining friendships. On some level, I do not think that I should have to. You either like someone or you do not, you enjoy their company or you do not, you find them easy to talk to or you do not – you really should not have to “work at” anything. But that is not really true, is it now?

“But you don’t understand!” I protest. “I have realized all of this before… I did have a friendship that was important to me… I was trying to be specific and intentional and I still got it all horribly wrong!” But that is *my* problem, and I really have been much too hard on my friend who at least had the decency to say, “I can’t do this anymore,” when most people just fade away. Oh well, “next time I have friends”, right?

So, to answer the original question, a real friend would not take all of this BS from me.

Where exactly do I expect this magic friend to come from? Or these “right” people with their “right” questions? Deep down I suppose I have always believed that there would only be one person to whom I could really talk, one person who would really understand me, and if you aren’t my soul mate then I’m just not interested. I have not been looking for a friend, I have been looking for a “savior.” That really is not going to happen, is it?

I was at a bar last week, watching those (quite frankly, unattractive) people drinking and smoking. I was doing neither, I was only there to play music. A couple of thoughts occurred to me. One was that I never seem to “belong” anywhere. It seems like no matter where I am – church, school, job, this bar, whatever – I am always there for a different reason than everyone else. That is a whole topic in itself. The other thought that I had was that I really need to get over myself and try to be friends with some “real” people.

So I have been trying to be better about initiating contact with people, actually asking the questions I wonder about, following up on things they have mentioned previously… which probably does not seem that impressive to you, but none of which comes naturally for me. It is really too soon to tell what is to come of it.

*Someone seriously might want to double check this.

One Response to “On The Nature of Friendship (Part II)”

  1. Garrett

    The Job is going good, although I got sick the night you hanging out, so my first day was kind of miserable. I always sensed your BS, but never said anything, mainly because I felt like I was dealing with the same BS. I am sorry if I have not challenged you in the way you might need. I do not think I can right now, at this point in my life. All I can do is be a listening ear if you ever want to talk to a “real” person. I do not like conforming…I do not like it at all. And yet, I do it over and over every time I go to the bar. Thanks for your words!

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