Call of Duty: Friendship Edition
This blog will be an epic tale about being in the trenches of friendship. And to begin, I will quote the immortal Steve Coogan (left), who played David Ershon in one of my all-time favorite movies, “The Other Guys” (0:30 here, if you haven’t seen it):
“I think the best way to tell the story is by starting at the end, briefly, then going back to the beginning, and then periodically returning to the end, maybe giving different characters’ perspectives throughout — just to give it a bit of dynamism. Otherwise, it’s just sort of a linear story.”
It seems that spring is in the air — and by that, I’m not talking about birds and flowers and sunshine. I’m talking about what a dark, depressing poet sees: Spring reminds us of, yes, a rebirth and renewal but also the beginning of yet another passage of time — one that’s I think somewhat scary for some of my friends now that we’re older.
I have terrific friends who I feel ever closer to as the years go by. They are quirky — I mean, given my eccentricities, could they really be otherwise? — and unique and deep and fun and overall fantastic people I don’t think I could’ve gotten this far in the world not having gone postal without. I know fantastic boys and girls who have grown into fantastic men and women. I’m so lucky and blessed to have in these people in my life, as would anyone else be.
But the years are going by. We are all in our 30s now, or pretty close. This probably wouldn’t mean anything if it weren’t for the culture we’ve grown up in that gives us these incredibly arbitrary mileposts for where we should be in our lives at certain ages. Example 1: 30-year-old men should be raking in at least 100K, having moved up the chain of command at their law firm or financial company. Example 2: 30-year-old women should be happily married and popping out the pups.
Now, some of these standards may seem a little old-school. They are. But my point is that, even on some sort of bizarre subconscious level, I do believe they’re playing a role in the fears my friends seem to be expressing lately.
Relationships my friends believed would last forever aren’t working out. Or, out of fear, desperation and loneliness, some of my other friends are getting involved with people who control them, mistreat them, and just flat-out use them. One of the saddest things to me is, because my friends are introspective, many of them know exactly what’s going on in these situations; they just choose to carry on with them anyway, in spite of the fact that they’re doomed to fail.
Chris Rock said it best here, at 1:40.
“You can’t be like, ‘I’m going to church. Where you goin’?’ ‘To get the pipe.'” Doesn’t work.
As a close friend and confidant, I tend to get extremely defensive regarding the well-being of my pals. I tend to become the Voice of WTF whether asked for or not. I’m doing it again now. And I’m doing it because to me, true friendship means I have a personal responsibility toward my pals to tell them I’m concerned, to tell them I think they may be going in the wrong direction — and to also tell them I love them and want better for them, that they have infinitesimal and inherent value as human spirits to me and to others who truly love them now and will love them down the road.
Jesus is a perfect example of why no one should be afraid that they’re another year older but seemingly no closer to finding the true love they seek.
No, don’t worry; this is not one of those blogs. I’m not referring to the Jesus. I’m referring to my Jesus, my significant other who, at age 42, found me. Of course, no one can make 100 percent guarantees about the future of anyone or anything, but I can tell you — as can the people who’ve met him and know me — that we love, cherish and respect each other, and in ways that I never even came close to — not by a long shot — with any other lover I’ve ever had my whole life.
But again, like I mentioned before, my friends aren’t stupid. They know all these things already; I’m not telling them anything revelatory. But there’s a difference between knowing and knowing, between knowing in your head and believing in your heart. And that is something no friend can do for another, no matter how hard she may try.
The question of whether I should be trying, though, is an interesting one to pose. While I consider silence in the face of injustice — chosen or otherwise — an act of both selfishness and cowardice, I’m sure there are other out there who disagree. For me, I have the belief that if I don’t speak up when I’m witnessing destructive behavior — self-induced or otherwise — I am participating in that destruction. Do true friends do that? Not in my book. Acquaintances? Maybe. But that’s another story.
I’ve been lucky to have many friends along the way who’ve reminded me of this when I didn’t believe myself that something better would ever come my way, but I had to fix my wrong thoughts first. Everybody’s up against different demons, of course, and I’m not trying to minimize any of them. I just know from my own experience that I had to be willing to fight for what I truly deserve, fight against all the lies my life had told me about myself and my head repeated, fight for my true happiness. It’s out there for everyone, but only if you’re faithful enough, strong enough in your healthy beliefs and self-esteem not to settle for less. That’s the real Secret.
I think a lot of people keep their silence when they see these things happening to their friends because they think, “Oh, my friend will get mad and never speak to me again if I tell them something they don’t want to hear.” But I return to the wisdom of Chris Rock on this point, because what he said about relationships applies to friendships, too. You can’t be a born-again and still be buds with a crackhead. Doesn’t work. So if your friend’s going down the path of destruction and you’re not along for the ride, you should be preparing to lose that friend anyway — at least temporarily — whether you say something or not. So really, why are you doing your friend a disservice with your silence? Because it serves your purposes and lets you continue to feel comfortable? Cowardly, if you ask me.
But you didn’t ask me, and here I am, telling you what I think anyway. I guess, cherished friends, you can expect this sort of thing to continue from me. I hope I can expect, though, your continued friendship and love because of it. Every once in a while, one of you will even thank me for these reminders, as I have thanked you in my dark times.
Spring has sprung, my dears. Don’t let this one be a time where you sink back into the old, familiar destructive behaviors that make you feel comfortable yet ultimately keep you miserable. Instead, why not let this be a time where you yourself shed the old skins of what will no longer work for you and rise above them into a new opportunity for happiness? Aren’t you curious, like me, to see what could be in store?