As much as I try to deny it, I am a sentimental old fool. That is o.k. It has taken me some time to reconcile this fact, but I know now that it is the truth. I don’t have many friends, and I like it that way. My friends I can count on one hand. (You know who you are, and don’t need any kind of list.) Mankind is a social creature by nature, and actively seeks out his own kind, if for no other reason than to have someone to complain to about the rest of mankind. This is deeply ingrained in our nature and nothing can rid us of it. It is the reason we have large cities, and are prone to work together in a common cause. We are a herd animal, like it or not.
The friendships that I have, I have cultivated over an extended length of time. I do not take in a new person very easily. They have to prove themselves against every friend I have had in the past. These are tough standards, but you have to have some criteria to go by. You can’t included every person that you meet as your friend, unless you are willing to set yourself up for a LOT of disappointment.
My wife has told me on several occasions that I taught her what being a good friend is all about. I am a little hesitant to believe this, but I have to take her at her word. She is my best friend.
I had the opportunity to be a good friend tonight and I took it, and boy, am I glad I did. I went to visit a “sick friend”. I didn’t know that they were sick, but they just seemed a little “off” the last time we talked, so I thought that I would stop by and look in on them. I arrived unannounced and was welcomed in. After a little chit-chat, the talk turned to more serious things, and the crux of the matter came out. We sat and talked and the evening wore on. I stayed longer than the ten minutes that I promised my wife, but I knew when I got home and explained that I had been visiting a “sick friend”, she would understand, and she did, and that is part of the reason she is my best friend. My friend needed someone to talk to; someone who was not involved, and had a sympathetic ear. I tried very hard just to listen and not interject anything. Sometimes people just need to be listened to, more than anything else. I have learned this about being a good friend, because I have had good friends just sit back and listen when I really needed to talk. I’ve learned that about half of being a good friend involves shutting the f*ck up when the situation calls for it. One quarter involves jumping in when it is uncomfortable (one of the toughest parts of being a good friend), and one quarter involves just showing up. I’m sure there is a portion that is devoted to trust, accountability, and truthfulness, but that is to be covered by someone with a lot more education than I. Let’s just say that ranges in the 25% area, and leave it at that. (I know that adds up to 125%, but math was never my strong suit.)
Things had gone very wrong for them, and tonight, of all nights, I showed up at their door. The hug that I got on my departure was better than a large stack of $100 bills. I wouldn’t trade it for a month of backrubs. We made plans for later in the week, and I think it is going to be such a good time for both of us that I may ask them to help me write the recap. Time can only tell.
I guess that the whole point of this article is look in on your fellow human being. The rich rewards will follow you all the days of your life. I know that I feel well rewarded, just for stopping by, and bothering to say that I care.
May you make many good friends in your time. I know that I have made a treasured few in mine.