April 13, 2004


I went bowling on the weekend. It was a friend’s birthday party. I have known Norm and Nancy for twenty-five years. I knew them each before they were together. Now Norm is 53 and Nancy will turn 50 this summer. I've known them each before they had known (in the biblical sense) each other. I’ve known them and a lot of their friends when we lived in New York City and here in Nova Scotia. We are all practicing Buddhist. And yet I could say that half of the people at the bowling party were not people I am comfortable around. I could say even that I hate a few of them. But that would be too strong a word. I just really don’t enjoy their company because they act like they don’t like me. I would imagine that if they were friendlier to me, I might like them, definitely more than I do now. And quite possibly, if I had been friendlier to them, taken more of an interest in their worlds, they would have been friendlier to me, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Then the other thing about friendship is that I know for myself how I am with someone can change radically from person to person, and even from day to day. It could depend on what I had been thinking or even what I had for dinner. Who I am is not solid, not a fact. I exist in relationship to what is happening, who I am with, what I am doing.

There are all kinds of friendship: casual friends, intimate friends, old and new friends. And every kind has its idiosyncrasies and rules. I, being a Sagittarius, call everyone a friend until proven otherwise. But actually sometimes feel I don’t have a friend in the world. I do have a few very close friends, with whom I can talk freely about most things that happen in my life, in my mind. I treasure them.

But the other kind of friend, the casual friend, is a very important friend as well. Spending time with a friend does not necessarily mean intimacy. Talking about “myself”, whatever that may be on that particular day. I learn so much by what I don’t, can’t say in that situation—learn to listen, to appreciate how the other person’s mind works separate from me, to see my responses without needing (or being able to be verbal), without asking for confirmation.

But it is commonly (accurately and sometimes with difficulty) said that the best friend is the one that you spend the most time with—yourself. If you don't like that friend, if that person is frustrated and angry, the world is not a pretty place. Maybe the hate mongers have no real friend.

Posted by leya at April 13, 2004 08:16 AM