Some time ago I posted about friendship and how difficult it is as the years go by to create new friendships (Sometimes, even Frasier Crane is right). In the months since that post went live I have tried to build a new friendship. Just one, but a real and meaningful friendship.
This is not to say that I went out to libraries, bookstores, comic shops, etc trying to find someone to befriend. I looked at the acquaintances I already had and picked the best person I knew and decided to try to create a real friendship. Coincidentally the person I was going to try to kindle a better friendship with had read that same post and the one after (A Hobbit’s Life: "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.") and had decided on his own to do something very similar (So I found out later anyway) which made the entire process easier for us both.
It is incredibly hard, as an adult, to try to build a new friendship. It seems awkward and forced at first. I mean, as a kid there are so many things that you can do to build friendships. You have school, sports, cops and robbers, just hanging around the neighborhood, etc. but as an adult there are so few. Especially if (much like myself) sports are not huge a part of your life and you don’t work in the same place. Eventually though it does feel more natural as you discover things you do have in common and find some shared interests.
The single hardest thing for me was deciding how and when to start opening up and sharing what I was thinking and feeling. As a boy you get taught to (or at least you used to) keep feelings to yourself, to keep the stiff upper lip as it were. Even now, over sharing or sharing too soon would be awkward and possibly destroy any possibility of friendship. This is all besides the fact that I hadn’t shared anything with anyone (apart from my wife) for a very long time. There are still a great many things I haven’t shared not because I don’t trust my friend but because I just don’t have the words to share them with. I imagine this will change too as I learn more about being, and having, a friend.
Moving forward I am sure I will have to put as much effort into internal changes as I am into the external friendship. So many years have passed since I had a real Best Buddy friendship that I no longer instinctively behave friend-like I have to work at it. In the words of every motivational speaker in the world I will have to “Fake it till I make it”. When something I see or hear strikes my fancy, it doesn’t occur to me to tell my friend about it. I might share it on G+ if I think about it but I don’t send an email or text to anyone else. This is not the sharing I was talking about previously that is more of a “what is going on in my life” sharing what I am talking about now is a “wow, this thing is cool you have to check it out” kind of sharing. So for the time being I have to keep thinking about my friend and whether or not he would be interested in that thing that just distracted me like a squirrel does a dog. If it would, I need to let him know about it.
Speaking of the “wow, this thing is cool you have to check it out” sharing, my friend recommended a book to me this past weekend. Not entirely coincidentally it is about a great friendship and how powerful such a friendship can be. I have made it a little over halfway through the book and I can strongly recommend it to anyone who has ever had a really good friend or anyone who wants a really good friend or, well, pretty much everyone. The book is called “I’m Proud of You” by Tim Madigan.
Friendships, like tents*, are hard and they should be as all things worthwhile are. Friendships take time, effort, thought, and just like any other relationship you can’t take anything for granted. Even as new as this friendship is, I find days passing by with no communication at all. I still need to remind myself to reach out and share things of interest that I come across every day. That said, the end result is always worth the effort put in. When you have a very good friend the world is, in fact, a merrier place.
*Tents are hard. - Russell, UP - Disney Pictures.