On Friendship, Part 3
Posted by Keen Observer on July 25, 2014
I was having a discussion with my best friend some days ago, in which she was engaging in some of her trademark obsessive behaviour, while simultaneously fretting about being in this obsessive mode. This is something I have experienced with her on previous occasions, and it’s not something that bothers me beyond the fact of disliking that she tortures herself like that. In fact, during this iteration of obsession, I realised a few things:
- I like listening to her obsess about things (which may surprise her).
- I like being the person to whom she feels she can obsess about these things (which shouldn’t).
- I like that these interactions are non-judgemental and entirely reciprocal (she takes her turns absorbing my own outpourings).
- With the proviso that sometimes judgement is necessary, and is performed in both directions as appropriate.
- The connection we have/share is so profoundly deep that any other concepts that do not support these statements are entirely unthinkable.
The last item was kind of the key one in my moment of “Eureka!” During our conversation, I noted it thusly (with improvements):
You are so much a part of my life, that when you ‘go off the deep end’ [as she put it], I just stand and let it wash over me, the rock on the beach sitting immobile and stable, as the stormy waves crash around it. I observe and analyse and advise, but ultimately, I am apart from it in such a way that lets me fully accept the action of your storm waves without being drowned by them. And at the same time, I provide an outlet for you that isn’t damaged by the force of the storm. But the key is that you and I have such a deep, powerful connection that I can no more turn away from your rage or insanity [her term] or sadness than I can my own. And so, I exist, and you exist, and we complement and support each other. Profoundly.
As these words came out of me, I realised them for essential truth. Or Truth. I thought on this for some time after and realised that as much as I see myself as her rock, I equally know with certainty that she is mine (and I have also waxed poetical in this vein). She provides a stable barycentre about which I may revolve, or the heavy storm anchor that keeps my fragile hull from being smashed to flinders, as I am tempest-toss’d by the hurricane of my emotions. And I am confident in this relationship to the marrow of my bones. I know her, and she knows me, in profound and complete ways. We know the other’s flaws, and they don’t matter in the least. We don’t love each other in spite of those flaws; we just love each other, flaws and all, because those flaws are part of makes us who we are, and we understand this intrinsically.
Though the metaphorical rock acts as an impervious observer to the stormy ocean, in another, very real sense, the solitary rock is enveloped by the calmed ocean, an ocean that surrounds and just…is. An ocean that is accepting and supportive and tranquil and…there, gently reminding the rock that it is never, ever alone. The ocean’s presence ebbs and flows, as these things do, but the constant contact between water and basalt echoes how one soul brushes up against and soothes the other, their presence a universal constant.
And as all of these thoughts passed through me, I realised another Truth: I have little doubt that there are people out there who have never–nor will they ever–have so deep and honest a friendship. These people I pity with all the strength I can muster, for I have been in that state and am indescribably glad to have escaped it. Of all the things that exist in my life at this time, she is currently what makes me feel the luckiest, the most valued, the most understood, the most appreciated, the most…well, the list goes on. I’ve finally gotten over the dazed bafflement at having so wonderful and awesome a friend, but the wonder and awe of her remain. I have even been so lucky as to have developed other close friendships that I value highly as well, but she’s definitely special, and I believe she has been instrumental in me being able to see and accept these other friendships, to have given me the ability to once again let others see who I truly am. To risk.
She has been such an incredible gift to me, that I can’t really imagine that life is possible in her absence. My best friend centres me, stabilises me, gentles me, encourages me beyond my limits. The reality–the solidity–of the connection we share grounds me so perfectly, that I can no longer feel that I am without also the parallel of she is palpably within me. I could no more turn against her or hurt her than I can harm myself, because to hurt her would be to hurt myself. And because of how she gives and supports and loves in return, I know the same holds for her. The connection is truly soul-to-soul.
And to me, that is the nature of a perfect, true friendship…or as close to it as makes no difference.
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