years of the adventure that has been my life, I have seen many people come and
go from it, from really close friends to casual acquaintances. We all have friends who we can truly call
lifetime comrades, and then there are those who are friends for just a season
or two, then move on. I’ve learned from years of practice, some hits
and misses, what it takes to be a friend.
One aspect to friendship that is required for maintenance is nurturing. It is impossible for friendships to survive
without the involved parties nurturing the friendship, at least fairly equally. In
the past, I have felt the need to excuse some friends from my life because the
friendships were not even close to being evenly yoked.
For example, I have an ex-friend who was in my life for
17 years. (Don’t worry, he’d never read
this blog, as it would entail giving attention to someone besides
himself.) He was one of those people I
thought I’d never tire of having around, because he was hilarious, and we did
nothing but laugh and act like fools when hanging out with one another. It was pretty clear from the get-go of our
friendship that this guy was completely narcissistic and had an ego that went
WAY beyond simply loving oneself. The
guy HAD to be the center of attention constantly, even if he was making a
complete ass of himself, as long as people were watching him, it was all
good. He and I and a couple of our other
friends once decided to form a band. Of
course, he HAD to be the “front” man, and not only did he want to be our lead
singer, he wanted to be the lead guitarist.
However, he REFUSED to learn guitar chords! He’d pick up that guitar and just MAUL out
sounds from bowls of hell! He didn’t
have the desire to actually practice and learn how to play. No, in his mind, he was already a rock star
simply by default of his own perceived “natural” talent. I hate to admit this, because he was so ugly
inside, but the guy was quite striking in looks, and I know he believed that
was all he needed to be successful.
The rest of us in the band knew how to play our instruments. We weren’t perfect, and we weren’t rock
stars, but we took the time to practice and we got pretty good, except for
him. He was impossible to work with,
because he was critical of our work, yet he couldn’t even play. All he knew how to do was scream into a
microphone. Needless to say, we got sick
of working with him and disbanded. I
almost broke off our friendship then, but decided to hang in there.
Flash forward a few years—we are both in our late 30’s,
I have a steady income and my own place and he is living at home with his
parents and jobless. He wouldn’t look
for a job, as he was content living off of his parents, yet putting them down
with every other word out of his mouth.
He’d talk to me about what losers his parents were and how he never
wanted to be like them. I thought, “Oh,
so you don’t want to have a job and earn a living like those poor losers, huh?” During the phase he lived at home with his
parents, refusing to seek employment, he was often bored and would letch on to
me for his source of entertainment.
Well, I worked 40 hours a week!
He’d get upset if I didn’t want to party hardy until 2:00 a.m. on a
Wednesday night. That meant I was
getting old and becoming a loser. Then
he started bumming money off of me almost weekly. Nothing big, $10 for gas, beer, or
cigarettes, but over time, $10 at a time turned into more money than I was
willing to part with, so I cut him off.
I got to the point of not answering his phone calls because I knew he
would be calling to borrow money, borrow a CD, a book, what-have-you. It was always an “I need”, or “can I borrow”
phone call, and sometimes late at night after I’d already gone to bed. He didn’t care if he woke me, because his
needs were always more important than the needs of others.
After a period of time of ignoring his phone calls, he
took to showing up at my apartment without calling. I refused to answer the door. Eventually, I did answer one of his calls,
and let me tell you, the guy laid into me with an all out assault on my
character, what a loser I was and how I was going nowhere in life. He called me “just a Waco hick”, even though
he’s just a “Waco hick” himself. I mean,
he let me have it for having cut him off.
I basically told him to go to hell and never contact me again. Believe it or not, the idiot tried a couple
of times, but I had made my decision about him at that point. I never wanted to see or talk to him again,
and I still do not want to have anything to do with him, because he’s the
ultimate user. I don’t need people like
that in my life. It was easier for me to
tolerate people like him when I was young; but the older I get, the more I cut
soul-sucking vampires such as him out of my life.
Friendship has many aspects to it, and I don’t expect
them to be tit-for-tat. But when one gives
and gives and another takes and takes, never giving back, never nurturing, it
may be time to make the difficult decision to end the relationship. A friend is someone who lifts us up when we’re
down and supports us in our endeavors. Friends
want us to be successful and happy in life.
Friends stand by us through the storms and trials of life, as well as
our triumphs and successes. And they
never even entertain the idea of
stabbing us in the back or hurting us purposefully. A friend does not have to put another friend
down in order to gratify him/herself. That’s not the way friendship works! When our friends hurt, we should feel at
least a little hurt along with them. It’s
called empathy and compassion, two very important required aspects of positive,
healthy friendships. And when our
friends have shining moments or periods of their lives, we should be standing
beside them, beaming with pride! That’s
my buddy, right there, being successful and doing his/her thing!
Well, friends, I could go on and on about friendship,
but I’ll stop here for today. I’d like
to end with this thought, this simple God-given recommendation for life, which
tells us exactly how to be a friend far better than I have in this blog. “Do unto others as you would have them do
unto you.” If we follow this simple
rule, it is impossible not to be a good friend to others.