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Ryuichi Sakamoto “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence”
Friendship is everything to me. Indeed, I would argue the case for the friends we make throughout our lives being of as great a relevance to our authentic selves than bloodline. As the old adage goes — You can’t choose your family. And, while cut from the very same cloth, so to speak, blood relatives are often wildly different in temperament and nature. Friends, on the other hand, we get to select ourselves. Thus, should we do so shrewdly, then we’re able to set parameters which suit both parties, and complement one another’s unique characteristics. I love my family and would part the dead sea to see them safe from harm. That being said, I would do the very same for my friends.
Some might say fear is the mindkiller and, while it undoubtedly snatches the livestock, I can think of one far more destructive force we are required to withstand. Expectation. By constructing a mental assault course for one another, we are simply begging for disappointment to rear its ugly head. Suddenly and troublingly, we find ourselves wishing for failure, just so we can claim that all-important moral victory. Should we expect communication and it not arrive on cue, for example, then the higher ground is deemed ours, as though this will prove more satisfying a pursuit than simply receiving the comms in the first place. All too often, terse stand-offs ensue as neither party wishes to surrender face. And, should we be deemed not to live up to said expectations, then fight or flight mentality comes into play and any non-binding agreements are terminated post-haste. Personally, I prefer remain.
By expecting so much of others and being repeatedly underwhelmed, we forget the magnitude of the small things in life. Simple moments and gestures need not be broadcast, pre-ordained, or strategically planned. They simply are. Never once vying for attention, they happen out of a little thing called chance. Should we possess a wealth of friends, then chances are, we won’t go hungry at the beggars banquet. However, the second it becomes a numbers game, we are open to making the oldest faus pax in the homosapien handbook. In the same manner as a small, profitable business so often fails to hold onto its values the farther it expands its reach, we afford ourselves no breathing space to nurture the seeds in our plots. With nary a dither, the flowers then wither. And we become takers when back in the day we were givers.
Taking control, staking claim on each slave to play god. Competitive nature is healthy, to a degree. Should I enter into a game of chess, then you’d better believe I’m busting out the bishop. None of this two squares vertically, one horizontally knight bullshit, I’m getting my glide on to pillage each pawn as mere foreplay for the regal deflowering I have planned. Beat me to the King and here’s the thing, I’ll sing your praises. Either way, it’s win-win. Because it’s ultimately just a game. The end product is a pale substitute for the quest undertaken, at least for the self-confessed journey folk among us. We get to choose our own adventures, our pathfinders, our companions. Build our own mountains, and rivers, and canyons. Decide together that friendship is not a game we desire to play. But a tireless voyage into the unknown, to be celebrated for its open-ended narrative. For life. Far, far longer.
Foundations are critical to enduring friendships. Lifelong friends are a fair few leaps ahead as our young minds already selected for us way back when our instincts were sharpest and the legwork has long been done. Fresh alliances cannot boast years of perspective as bargaining tool, thus we are required to rely upon guts and start work on constructing our huts. This, in turn, provides an ideal opportunity to place the greatest emphasis on roots. Dealing only in truths, racing minds are heeded truces. Friendships then designed with a variety of interweaving uses. While loose lips have been known to sink ships on occasion, tight lips have no more inviting persuasion. Find the in-between and make each moment matter, and we’re cooking fable steaks on fossil fuels. Perhaps then, brick by brick, we’re bringing down the frown of towering walls.
This is why sturdy foundations are so pivotal to unbreakable friendships. Should we build our constructs together, based on trust and understanding, then we have a hand in creating something truly outstanding. It is often remarked that relationships take a great deal of work to blossom and, more critically, endure. While not about to disagree entirely, it is my belief that they need not entail such hard graft, providing safe places are airtight and foundations sound from the offset. Perhaps this is why my own favourite personal mantra is — You will have both my love and respect from the second we meet. Nothing to lose, only something most precious to keep — Trust is too often viewed as something to be earned, where I prefer the term nurtured. Gaining my trust can take as little as a single moment, piece of art, or handful of words. Been the same way since I stood knee high to a grasshopper. Certain childlike values are most precious to hold on to, for dearest life. Trust is right there in the upper echelons with belief and the ability to both love and be loved in return. Ultimately, they’re all interconnected. Once we reach a certain precipice and accept that we have no control over the weather. What we do have is a friend perched beside us who may just tilt their umbrella to shelter us, without prompting.
I consider myself blessed for all the friendships I have forged over the years, whether or not they have been afforded continuation. Loved ones have been taken from me unceremoniously and without a second’s prior notice. Such is life and death, although I still taste unspoken address on every last breath. A friend lost is not simply a footnote in a chapter of our lives, it is something to celebrate in all that we do, for all verses still to be written. That way, our beloved still get to live vicariously through us. At least, that is how this dreamer dreams. It’s all a matter of perspective. Unconditional love, whether platonic or sub-sonic, rewards us with two pairs of eyes, two beautiful minds, two sacred hearts. Which is why I would die for the sake of my art.
You see, this is my way of communicating with all the friends I have made since my quill first bled, seven years ago. It’s also the reason I instinctively chose to name my six volume poetry works All of Me. Friendship is everything to me. Whether we speak daily, weekly, monthly or annually matters not, only that both parties head to the same safe place upon return. And do so on account of childlike instinct, whether rediscovered or never actually surrendered. On account of trust. Of devout and understanding. No great expectations. Instead, the far more progressive pairing of hope and belief lead the dance. And, as it turns out, stars dazzle all the more brightly unprompted. We may each be but a drop in the ocean. But every last one of us is a diamond. Rather than striking a balance, maybe all we really need to do is search for cryptic clues as to the all important mythical reflection.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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