Thursday, July 23, 2015

In Deed

You know when a friend is really a friend? 

When you really, really need help, and they appear, ready for action.
"How to Be a Friend in Deed" by Bruce Feiler peels away the cop-outs that many (including me) avail of when it comes to potentially uncomfortable situations where friends are floundering. 

Tweeting "The sun will come out tomorrow" is not exactly useful. Texting "Hugs!" is bare comfort. Leaving messages "Tell me if you need anything" puts the onus on the receiver as opposed to the giver. 

The same way parenting can't be executed through a screen, so to with active friendship; proximity is required, hands at the ready.
If there is a common theme, it’s that while technology does offer support, many still crave the real thing. Crisis is a test of friendship, and success, in this case, is measured in intimacy.
Sometimes the needy friend just wants to escape reality with a night out talking about shoes. And whatever you do, don't Pollyanna them. That's not fair. You can Pollyanna yourself as much as you like, but barfing all those rays of light on someone else is the easy way out. 
“A friend of mine did the best thing,” he said. “Rather than say everything would be O.K., he said quite simply: ‘I will like you if I’m the last person to do so. There’s nothing you can do to put me off you. You’re stuck with me for life. You may hate yourself, and the world may, too; but I won’t follow suit.’ ”
Mr. de Botton said he found the gesture comforting: “Friends should entertain the darkest scenarios and show you that these would, nevertheless, be survivable.” Instead of placating with false optimism, he said, “I need grim, grim realism, combined with stoic fortitude — colored by a touch of gallows humor.”
Sharing knowledge of the darkness is way more comforting, as well as stories of one's own struggles. 
“When someone is vulnerable with you, it seems only polite to be at least a little bit vulnerable back,” she said. “If someone says, ‘Sometimes I regret every one of my life choices,’ don’t just stand there nodding smugly. Volunteer your own regrets. Everyone has them. And if you don’t, I’d say it’s a wonder you have any friends.”  


Altie said...

I like this. I see friendships like this depicted in tv shows and wish I could have something like that. But I guess friendship is as much give as take. What do you do when you realize you chose the wrong friends?

littleduckies said...

Agreed. Someone who doesn't have regrets is probably not being honest with themselves.

Princess Lea said...

Altie: It is difficult. Ma and I both watch these shows and say, "Are there really friendships like that?" We haven't experienced those sort of selfless relationships ourselves. There are those who are your friends because they have nothing better to do, then disappear when something better pops up . . . and I think with this constant media conversation about "friends," people have unrealistic expectations of amazing friendships they are "supposed" to have, then think they are weird for not having them. What if we aren't weird, just we live in the real world where there aren't vampires either?

littleduckies: And without self-awareness and honesty, how can someone really be a good friend?