Sunday, 20 April 2014

To all lost friends

I am on the round terrace of the British Library. Looking up at the clouds. My lost friend Steven Taylor told me something a while ago, something that Allen Ginsberg had told him, about the sky above, the closest sense of infinity that we can have, everyday, all of the time, just by looking up. I don't remember the exact words but I treasured their general meaning. Forever. Our friendship, though, was not forever. And this made me reflect upon friendship, how it is formed, sustained and how it ends. Most friendships are born, maintaned or terminated by mutual agreement. This mutual agreement is a complex and intricate dance, made mostly of micro signals with which we define the terms of the agreement, our boundaries. How much space we need in our relationship with that one person, what subjects can be approached, what activities can be done together. Every friendship is different, with some friends we speak everyday, with others only once a month. Normally we are pretty skilled at this friendship creating and managing. In most cases, if we like someone, they like us too. Why? I don't know, but our instinct does. Even in the ending of a friendship there is usually a mutual agreement, growing naturally apart or arguing over something important. There may be pain in ending a friendship, but still, it is mutual and explainable. There are cases, though, that leave us puzzled. The ones in which the severing of a friendship is one-sided. You were happy or satisfied with how a friendship was developing or continuing, but the other person was not. Luckily this doesn't happen too often. Because it hurts. Often for both parties. The person who has been 'unfriended' is confused. What micro or not so micro signals had she missed? What did she do 'wrong' that could be put right by talking, explaining? We think that if our friend suddenly doesn't want our friendship anymore, they must have misunderstood us somehow, and if only we were given the chance to explain, we would be able to resume our relationship, or at least find closure. This is hardly ever the case. How do I know? Because I had to withdraw from a friendship a few times myself, and if my unfriends asked me for an explanation, I would feel horribly trapped. It's not that I don't know. It's just that the friendship was severed because I knew that there was no point in explaining. Most of the times, when our chatterbox rehearses arguments and explanations in our heads, is because we know that the other person would not understand, no matter what. We want to explain because explanations are needed, and if explanations are needed, the natural dance of friendship is simply not working, is not naturally flowing. Paradoxically, when explanations are needed, they should not be given or demanded. I hear you, of course there are cases in which explanations work, but those cases are the non-one-sided cases, in which both parties want to continue the relationship. If one of the two has made a final decision, and instinctively they know it's final (and so do you, deep inside), letting go is the best policy. But some of my lost friends were great people who contributed positively to my life while the dance lasted, they opened new horizons for me and created magical moments. So I celebrate that. I look up to the sky and I am grateful to see an infinite world.

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