In Praise Of Friends
I have friends who are beyond price. Real. True. Friends. Some I catch up with regularly. Some I rarely see. Some I seem only ever to connect with online. But God bless ’em, every single one of them, because I am so frequently such an inadequate friend in return. All too often I greet warmth and generosity with an awkwardness that must feel awfully like indifference. Many times my silence is all I have to give. So this is both a short essay in praise of friends and an apology.
“A friend in need is a pest” — Groucho Marx
I love Groucho and I know he was, – as always it seems about serious things – joking. But he was wrong about this. Knowing that hasn’t stopped me hiding behind this quip. I have treated friends in cavalier fashion for no better reason than their needs were “inconvenient.” Like me – and I make no other comparisons; Groucho was a genius – he was difficult. He was, despite his very public job, notoriously private. He was generous to a fault…. until he wasn’t. He was opinionated, yet fragile, smart as a whip, yet dumb as a box of rocks. He could be a dreadful friend and a trying partner. Ditto. Ditto. Ditto. Ad Infinitum.
“God gave you your family. Thank God you can choose your friends.”
— Oscar Wilde
I love Oscar too. But again – even though I know it was one of his trademark bittersweet epigrams – this misses the mark in my experience. For the most part, my family have lifted me up, just as much as my friends. They’ve so often deserved better from me. I recognize the truth of what Oscar says about choice, though. There’s something wonderful about people who’ve chosen to be in your life.
“I thought I was flying like a bird So far above my sorrow But when I looked down I was standing on my knees Now I need someone to help me Someone to help me please ”
— Jackson Browne
I can’t possibly express the number and breadth of gifts I owe to my friends; this is a blog, after all, not War And Peace. And I’d be sure to miss someone – or something – that helped shape my life. But I can tell you about a week, one single incredible week, that prompted me to write this. During just the past seven days, I have:
- Met with a friend who lives impossibly far away and yet has doggedly, lovingly, preserved our emotional connection. I cried when we parted.
- Had breakfast with a friend who – despite profound difficulties in her own life – cared only about making mine better. She has never failed to do so.
- Sat down with a friend who shared her personal story, painful though it was, because she believed it would help me. Experience, offered selflessly, can be among the greatest gifts.
- Received a heartfelt message from a friend who reached out with medical help. We share a challenging disease. But it must be said he has suffered far more severely. He just wanted to help.
- And on and on it went. And goes on.
To all my friends. Thank you.
Posted on April 14, 2015, in life lessons, lifestyle, wellbring and tagged blog, Friends, Friendship, Grace, Gratitude, Groucho Marx, Jackson Browne, Kym Bidstrup, Life Events, Lifestyle, Oscar Wilde, Wellbeing, www.kymbidstrup.com. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.