Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Challenger

In my pursuit of the bigger picture, sometimes I lose sight of myself in all the observation, reading and meditation. Real-world consequences follow: my friendships suffer. It bothers me. I never set out looking to neglect my friends, but all too soon they are demoted to acquaintances. Maybe that’s what introverts do effortlessly. (Pun.)

When I walked into church and sat next to her for the first time this year, the look in Anita’s eyes told me I was in hot soup, fallen out of favor. I was right. She wouldn’t have talked to me at all that day if I hadn’t literally pursued her after the church service and forced the issue. Ordinarily I’m a live-and-let-live kind of guy: I suffer the suspect to stew in their emotions for a while and then hopefully someday they will freely confess what the problem was /is. Not this day though. She takes a long stride, but I caught up with her where the throng jams the exits on their way out.

“Did somebody wake up on the wrong side of the bed?” I demanded.

At first she refused to talk, her lips fixed in a defiant pout. Her glare avoided my face as we stepped out into the scorching afternoon sunshine. At length, she asked, “Do you have friends? I mean, actual friends; not idiots who keep your seat empty for you.”

I didn’t answer her question. She couldn’t seriously mean it.

“All we ever do together is sit in church. You call that a friendship?”

“It’s not like that,” I protested, but she was right.

“For all I know you might be playing football while the rest of us are protecting your chair in church!”

“No actually I was at home.”

“At home! No calls, no texts, nothing to tell me not to bother to hold your seat.”

“I’m sorry, okay? And thank you.”

“Home! Sleeping! Is this the way you treat your friends?”

“I wasn’t sleeping, I’ve been reading some books...”

“You’ll die lonely,” she cut in.

“I always say ‘better to die lonely than to live lonely’.”

“What? That’s twisted.” She wasn’t in a joking mood.

“At least I won’t complain – there’ll be nobody to complain to.” And I laughed alone at my own joke. (Dry humor is savored in the silence that is heard when it misfires. A bit like enjoying ugali, whose taste is neither here nor there.)

“You owe me,” said Anita, ignoring my eccentric sense of humor. “Big time.”

That day Anita reminded me of one day a long time ago. (FLASHBACK BEGINS) I went to my erstwhile best-friend, incidentally this was also in (another) church, and informed her we were not best friends any longer, except in name only. That was a description of our platonic friendship, not a prescription. It had been too long since we’d last talked. Even those talks were too spaced apart and too pedestrian to be accredited with Best Friend Quality Certification. Besides, we barely knew one another in sufficient detail and the whole alliance was anchored to nostalgic reminisces of childhood days and some seasonal letter-writing. So we amicably agreed that we were no longer best friends in practice. (FLASHBACK ENDS)

What goes around comes around, right? Anita described our “friendship” to me. It wasn’t much.

5 comments:

  1. Hello, my name is Matthew Cherry. i run and maintain a blog named Rock Your Freedom. Would you consider following me at rockyourfreedom.blogspot.com? Thank You!

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Matthew Cherry! Followed back.

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  2. Hello, my name is Matthew Cherry. i run and maintain a blog named Rock Your Freedom. Would you consider following me at rockyourfreedom.blogspot.com? Thank You!

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  3. I can so relate with this! It's true. Most of friendships in the 21st century are more Facebook-based than based on actual, face-to-face, real contact. And there are some things gained in live opportunities for talking BUT at the same time, there's a sense that, hey, we don't get together, really together anymore.
    I regret that trend, and still don't do that much to change that.
    I try to keep my FB contacts, my phone conversations and my physical visits as personal and deep as I can. That way I don't feel lonely. I'm naturally a bit more introverted than extroverted, so for me it takes perhaps a little extra effort to pick up the phone and I don't mix on social occassions with just anyone.

    But the point is, we have to get a bit out of our comfort zone and reach out to people. Because we need each other. And each one of us can contribute to another person's edification, and we can help carry each other's burdens and make life much less lonely and hard.
    Whether by writing, calling on the phone or seeing people, the idea is the same: let's share a lot more of the gifts and talents and good qualities each one of us has, for the benefit of the people we love. That's what community is all about.

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    Replies
    1. Good practical tips, Carina Arias de M.! The paradox of loneliness in the midst of seven billion others needs to be addressed better than most of us are doing. Love conquers all.

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