In my short life which I've learned is oh so fleeting, there is a short list of lessons with profound importance. One of those life lessons is the importance of friendship. Friendship is far more than a state of mind. Actions are what make a friend. While there are many virtues in friendship, friendship itself is the greatest virtue that comes with a great debt which can turn a life around. A genuine friendship paves the path to destiny.
The debt of friendship is as complex as it is intangible. A friendship gone wrong can cost you your life. I've read that people draw distinctions in friendships, there are friends and then there are close friends. Close friends are the ones you tell your secrets to. Sharing secrets comes the risk of betrayal. You have to ask yourself, is a friend worth risking your secrets over?
I personally know of a person that has no true close friends, viewing them objectively I've learned that they do not even have a lover they can truly call a friend. I often wonder if they know of the this great proverb by Confucius: "Silence is the true friend that never betrays." For the longest time this person would say to me, "Your mouth is your enemy". It seems now than I'm outside their world a bit that they point they made is understood in more ways than one. They live this life where their secrets are locked deep inside their own self. I've often admired such a cold heart. But paradoxically, I've also pitied this person because they will never know the peace-of-mind, the comfort of knowing you are honestly cared for and that someone wants to protect you. You have to own a moral compass to understand real friendship and I realize my pity is wasted; all I should really do is admire the black eyes of that shark and know that they are deep without feeling with a purpose. A person that cloaks them-self in false friendship is deadly to ones heart. In the same way a person can die of a broken heart in love a false friend can take away your will to live. As an aside, there has been actual scientific studies which prove losing someone you love and a broken heart, can lead to your death soon after. You can indeed die of a broken heart. (Look up "broken heart syndrome") So I believe you can suffer similarly by betrayal in friendship. It makes it hard to open up doesn't it? It makes it hard not to be guarded. Which by the way is how I'm so often told I am now.
You know... Years ago when I was not yet a father I lived as Rick did in Casablanca. I lived harshly by his words, I was DangerMan. I was a dangerous heart breaker to women. I was dangerous intellectually... I lived by the words, "I'm not fighting for anything anymore... I'm the only cause I'm interested in." But in time I came to eat those words. And you should know as you read this... Rick did give a shit. It was just that he was hurt so bad, that what was left of him, the Rick that cared, became guarded. He buried the side that cared deep away. And Rick in the end did care didn't he? If you know the story, which is my favorite film of all time... He cared. He performed the most selfless act for the woman he loved and he denied his own happiness for her and others; he went on the rest of life alone. This has everything to do with friendship folks. This has everything to do with the price and debt of friendship. There is a saying that a sums up this story. All the money in the world is worthless without someone to share it with.
You see in our lives we all share a common concern. Who is friend and who is foe? My father taught me many lessons in life, and others... I've had to learn for myself. The ones I've had to learn the most on my own have surrounded friends and trust of those I should love.
I've found my wisdom regarding what friendship is in my life in places taken for granted or in places we assume has no real value in today's world, from Polonius advice to his son Laertes in Shakespeare's Hamlet, to Sun-Tzu's Art of War with "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." I've truly felt that I had lived a life somewhat insulated from danger in relationships. If you are like me you have a true appreciation of the value of friendship. Many of us grew up with that famous quote from a Wonderful Life, "No man is a failure who has friends." Who doesn't want just one friend for this reason alone?
Friends are hard to truly identify. Even when you believe you have a mutual bond, friendship can't be claimed by friendly actions alone. In this treacherous life it is difficult to know who is friend and who is foe. But in the end one finds out and the wise man acts accordingly. It's like the old saying that adversity doesn't build character, it reveals character. Dealing with false friendships can reveal a lot about your own character.
Consider the beautiful woman. Intoxicated with the power of her own beauty is apt to withdraw love from a man she has gained trust and confidence from. When she finds the man she once had console himself with another beauty, she regrets her coldness. What does she do then you may ask? She claims the privilege of any beautiful woman and changes her mind before she loses forever what she once had.
What is important to understand here is that we all get tangled up in friendships where we compromise our own wants and needs for friendship. A true friend should never require you to compromise your own values.
Do you have a true friend in your life? Someone you can trust like your own blood? To have such a person is utterly priceless which is the true debt of friendship.
Our journey in life is actually one we take on our own and a friend is not always your wife, your kindred or your soul mate. A friend may only be someone we share a harmony of interest with. And remember this... harmony is predicated on differences... a friend isn't required to share all of your views. A friend can compliment you in many ways, not just like ways.
But all of this talk about friendship is bravado. It is something wonderful and great but the risk of betrayal in this modern world means friendship comes at a high price. Or perhaps the price of friendship is worth more if you have a true friendship, one where trust is without question. The debt of friendship is proportionate to the value you put on friendship.
I once wrote a poem that voiced this sentiment about love, but the same goes for friendship..."Some people never find true love once in a lifetime, why should I think I could find it twice..." Well, the same is true about friendship. Some people never find it once in a lifetime. It really is worth finding and having as friendship can turn your life around.