Friends & Friendship

I’ve been spending some amount of time in trying to explain to myself what a friend is, and is not.

Friendship is the bigger statement. Lots of people are lovers but aren’t friends. Lots of people are relatives and aren’t friends. Lots of people work together who aren’t friends. You can appreciate or admire someone, but that doesn’t make them a friend.  Friendship is an in-depth, relaxed relationship.  A combination of trust, support, communication, loyalty, understanding, empathy and intimacy.  Friends relate.

We’re relatively casual about the word, but sometimes things happen that take the casualness out of it. When I had my near-death experience when I was 15 and the following long recuperation, I had a lot of time to think about what makes someone a friend. If they are scared of you when you need help, sorry, that’s not friendship. If their attitude is “for better or worse,” if they stick by you through thick and thin, that’s when you can tell it’s friendship.   We go out into the world and do our best.  We have our ups and downs.  Problems and triumphs.  Fun and tribulations.  We charm, and we perform.  I do have some friends, but not as many as I thought.

My late grandma used to say no matter what your family is there for you when you need them. Last time we talked about this, after my catastrophe, I thought to myself “… but sometimes its not true TokWan …..”.  There was a time, when a cousin really needed me, that I didn’t come through for her. I remember hanging out in my parent’s happy suburban house , and not getting to help her through her troubles. Luckily I did get to apologize for that, in this lifetime. As always, with me at least, she didn’t bear a grudge, she just waved it off as not important.

Most people use the term “Friend” far too casually. But if they had reason to pause, to think if so and so is really a friend, they would realize they either don’t know (the relationship hasn’t been tested), or they are not.

Remembered my younger days when I went with a girlfriend to her grandma’s for the week-end.  It was fun but when I got home, home was wonderful.  My feelings was “I’m home. I can relax now.”

Thats what a friendship should be.   When we “come home” to a friend, we can relax, put up our feet, and we are relieved. Friendship should be a comfy situation like home.  However, if we still have to be charming and/or performing, and not feel relieved, then that friendship needs to be re-captioned.

I don’t have a tidy answer about him and me and friendship. Sometimes we were friends, and other times, clearly, not. But I guess there’s something remarkable in two people overcoming the barriers to friendship that family imposes, esp one as “brutal” (literally speaking only la) as ours, to find some real communication at some point. Just to connect, for just a few moments, is rare these days, exceptionally rare.

Friendship is not about always being nice, or agreeable, far from it. A friend will tell you when he or she thinks you’re full of shit, but always casts it that way, never as a statement of fact. It’s a fine but important distinction. If I say “you’re full of shit” to a friend, it must be understood that this is my opinion only. Further, it’s more likely that he or she is not the one who’s so full, it’s more likely that I am. That’s why I cringe when someone, in the name of friendship, says this to me. Usually they’re wrong, but there’s no point arguing, they’re in some kind of trance, pedaling hard to avoid looking at something they desperately want to avoid.

But noone can form friendship if he/she realizes that the basis of being friends is meeting the needs of the other person.  One must be a friend to have one.

Never forget that friends relate.  Relating is the basis of friendship.


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