Sunday, May 17, 2009

Regarding Friendship

The recent changes in my life have had serious and painful consequences; there have been many losses. Losses of trust, losses of financial freedom, and losses to things people take for granted each and every the ability to simply talk to to a trusted friend as a peer. In other words, the loss of communication, communion, and contact. You know, simple friendship. The ability to talk to someone, to share your day, and to get feedback about the ideas in your head or the feelings in your heart.

Oh, sure, I call friends or pass email, but there's something to the ability to have simple human contact with an adult. The touch of a mind can be as rewarding and comforting and the touch of a hand.

I've been thinking about friendship lately. What makes good friendship? What is genuine? Being there. Being honest. Listening. Comforting. Sharing. Respecting.

A good friend will kick you in the tail feathers when you need motivation. A good friend will hand you a reality check when your outlook is overdrawn. A good friend will come to you with problems and help find ways to find genuine solutions. And, yes, a good friend will find a diplomatic way to tell you that those jeans aren't as flattering as they could be.

Good friends don't keep important secrets from you. They don't break promises, especially when they know you're counting on them. They don't laugh at your idiosyncrasies or trash talk you to others. They don't interfere with things that are important to you. They don't get into the things that aren't any of their business. They don't read your private correspondence. They don't make fun of you behind your back. And they most certainly do not misrepresent you to others or lie to your face.

Friends are open. They look out for your best interests. They ask direct questions. They listen. They respect your limits. And they behave with integrity.

Good friends know the boundaries of your relationship and they respectfully wait until you're ready to invite them into different parts of your life. Good friends respect your process and they come to the place where you are, rather than where anyone else expects you to be.

I once knew someone who took a chance and shared something incredibly private with a new friend. The new "friend" betrayed that trust and used the private thing to hurt the person I knew. The consequences of the misplaced trust ultimately changed several lives...for the worse, in my opinion. What made the situation incredibly sad was that the person I knew later betrayed someone else's trust and misused private things.

What was it that Santayana said about remembering the past?

This post is kind of uneven...and it's vague. I'm afraid it has to be...for now. This place was meant to be my private spot...a place for invited guests only. The nature of the Internet is such that we can't prevent those with hurtful agendas from seeing or misusing the content we throw out here.

For the moment, I find it necessary to be circumspect and cautious, not only here, but in other places...and in other ways. Hopefully, this will be a temporary measure and I can get back to talking openly about my personal ideas and experiences.

In the meantime, be good to each other...and treat each other with respect. Better yet, respect those you do not like. At the very least, it'll throw them off-balance.