Tuesday, May 10, 2011
An Open Letter To A Young Friend
I think, maybe, because I’m more than a decade older than you, I’ve learned some pretty nifty things about life, love, friendship, and other things that are of great importance in our journey in this life.
I’ve learned, for instance, that in our youth we start out with three powerful weapons to help us in our life’s battles:
I can’t say much about faith. I keep losing mine as I grow older, as I learn more about the universe, and as I experience more of human mortality. If there is a God, all I can perceive of him is that he isn’t as insane as the God of the Bible.
And so we turn to family.
The thing about families is that ours is always more screwed up than our friends’. Or so it seems. The reality is that every family is screwed up. Every. Single. One. You see that perfect family on Facebook? They’re screwed up. Really. They just hide it better than we do. They take perfect, happy pictures because it’s a matter of pride for them to look perfect. To be envied by their community, if we’re cynical observers. To serve as models, if we’re optimistic. We, on the other hand, have openly imperfect families because we don’t give much of a fuck, mindyourownshitthankyouverymuch. And because each family is screwed up, yours won’t really understand everything about you. Furthermore, as you grow older, more and more things about you become none of their business. Each man must kill his own father to realize his destiny. Oedipus did that, tragically. So did Luke Skywalker, to the great jubilation of the New Republic and nerds all over the world.
And so we turn to friends.
There are those we can call casual friends. These are the people who aren’t our enemies and who we get along with in our neighborhood, in school, at work. We don’t care about them too much. They don’t care about us too much. Casual friends are people who one day come into our lives, leave a little something behind, and take a little something with them when they go. We won’t miss them too much when they leave, and when we see them on Facebook, we’ll realize we don’t give too much of a shit about them anymore. We connected with them and then we disconnected with them.
And then there are our true friends.
Chief among true friends are husbands and wives. Yours will be the truest friend you will find. At least, it should be that way. But I don’t need to discuss this with you just yet. Maybe some other day.
True friends genuinely care about you. They’re hardly perfect, sure, but they make up for it with love. They’ll go out of their way if you need them. And they’re very rare. So rare, in fact, that you probably won’t find more than ten of them in your entire life. Maybe not even five. And some don’t find even one.
You see how precious these people are?
And so, here it comes, the point of this letter.
Don’t throw away a true friend when you’ve found one.