“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.”
“No book ever ends
When it’s full of your friends.”
– Roald Dahl
“We’ll be friends forever won’t we Pooh?” asked Piglet “Even longer,” Pooh answered.”
– A.A. Milne
Driving home from a late-night gig, I got a text from a friend in another time zone. I had been meaning to talk to this particular friend for over a month. Julia and I were almost home and we had to get up early. It would have been ‘virtually’ no trouble at all to wish him well and postpone an actual conversation. Instead, at ten minutes to 1am, I called him. We jumped right in as if no time had elapsed between our last conversing. This kind of friendship is not dependent on rehashing our history but delights in splashing around in the moment. He said that many of his friends get married and he is never able to talk to them without their spouses. However, with Julia and I, not only didn’t he mind, he said it was honestly refreshing to talk to both of us. I understood what he meant about sometimes wanting to have a connection with a friend without their partner because what friendship offers us is a chance to be fully ourselves without pretense or hesitation.
There are so many restrictions on our being that we navigate through on a daily basis, we are not even aware why we feel so worn out most of the time. With social media, we can see our friends, we can read texts, we can check our emails on our phones but there is nothing like direct contact. I get a certain thrill when I see people reading actual books on the subway. The other day, I saw a man reading a book about meditation and I decided to pull out a book as well in solidarity. I started to read and the man next to me woke up and we had a wordless friendly exchange. I am not sure he even spoke English but we smiled with one another and were augmented by our actually taking one another in.
The book I was reading was Lao Tzu’s Hua Hu Ching and he was talking about cultivating a, “natural love and respect for one’s being …one’s own being and everything in one’s environment are seen as divine in and of themselves… one may transcend all transient trivialities… it (this love and respect for one’s being) also reconnects one with the deep and constant nature of the universe.”*
That is why I have always reveled in the spontaneity of true friendship, it breaks the restrictive bonds of everything that must be accomplished to survive and instantly “reconnects one with the deep and constant nature of the universe.”
I used to say that a true exchange between friends was a battery charge. My uncle Jeff used to say that no matter how big your battery was, if you were relying only on yourself, your battery would run down but if you plugged into the wall socket… So, perhaps true friendship isn’t about how much time we spend with one another or any tally of who gave what when but in one another’s presence, we find we are plugged in, the current is flowing, and our cup is overflowing.
Here’s to true friendship, may it break the bonds of conformity and bring us back fully to all that we are, which cannot be contained!
Love you, Ira
*- From The Complete Works of Lao Tzu, Translation and Elucidation by Hua-Ching Ni