What is friendship?
I don’t know how to write these thoughts. I don’t know how to write them because I do not know the answer to that question. You see, the truth of the matter is I don’t have many friends – not really. Not in the way that matters – that counts. On Facebook I have 665 ‘friends’. How many of these would go out of their way to help me – were I in need? How many of them would put themselves in harms way, if I were in danger? How many would feed my son – if I could not? A few perhaps – not many. And those out of obligation – maybe pity.
And for how many would I reciprocate? Probably fewer still – epic endeavors have no time for the mundane.
I write these things now because today I am losing a friend, and I am sad. Not losing in a dramatic sense, like a great fight or an unforgivable betrayal. Just the normal patterns of life that bring two people together for a season before the road forks and we wander off. The irony is that he didn’t know, I think, that we were friends. Colleagues maybe; happy-hour mates. That does not make this story less sad – but more so. Mine is a solitary profession; a solitary life. I move far away, then farther still until even the steadfast lose interest. Who can keep up with where I’ve been; and who can connect over so great a barrier?
Occasionally I return, and when I do the demons come with me. And they’re a nasty, smelly, overpowering lot that do not allow for the frivolity inherent in true friendship. The weight of their malevolence makes communion laborious – a chore. And what is friendship without communion?
Oh, I’m not complaining – not really. I chose to fight the evil, with the full knowledge when I did that it would come with so great a cost. I knew it would take me far away. I understood that it would demand everything. It had to – to drive away the darkness we must go where there is no light; where the paths are shadowed and where we most often walk alone.
It seemed worth it. Seemed something I could bear; at least when the decision was made. But that was a long time ago.
Back to my story; today I lose a friend. I will not even say goodbye; he doesn’t know the friendship is lost, for he did not understand what it was in the first place. This is no fault of his – life’s paths are unpredictable and we each have our own story; our own purpose. Our own demons. I wish him well – I mourn a little for a great amity that never was and I move on down the darkening path in search of my next great friendship; which also might never be.