The importance of friendship…

A melancholic tone moves through the Aegean Center, a mist leaving little trace but the knowledge that it has come and cooled the air.  I have been struck dumb by situations beyond my control, although I have been the catalyst that has brought them about.  In the end it is not about me, yet I have been shaken to the core.  The question is, what is ‘friendship’ really and can someone be merely a passing acquaintance if not a true friend?  I feel that this is a dilemma for all ages, not just mine nor the 20-something people around me.

Wright Morris was born in 1910.  He was a writer, photographer and essayist.  When he died in 1998 from complications due to Alzheimer’s he left behind an impressive body of work.  My father, Hilary Masters (also a writer, essayist and photographer) met him sometime during the 1960s I think, when Wright was in his fifties and my father his early thirties.  They became fast friends, each man mentoring each other in the ways of living and the arts.  In an era long before email and Facebook, they wrote letters to each other, visited and corresponded over vast distances on a regular basis nurturing a vibrant and vital relationship.  I wonder if the times had been different, if they had been able to use electronic means, could their connection have been any stronger?  I think not.  Although there have been advancements magical in the way we communicate with each other this technology has also given us a way to distance oursleves from those that may, in the end, enrich our lives.   Real, well-thought out, growth oriented communication has been supplanted by the mundane details of our lives posted on the web for all to see.  Why actually form true friendships and have meaningful conversations when we can just gossip and leave tags on each other’s walls?  But I digress…

Wright was about 20 years older than my father, and although they had many things in common, they were really generations apart.  This was a fundamental aspect of their friendship.   The older man mentored the younger and the younger enlivened the other by allowing him to see the world through younger eyes.  There was no judgment, although I imagine there may have been stern warnings (probably ignored) from time to time, warnings filled with love and respect.  Each man increased each others emotional and intellectual bone fide and in turn, have enriched my own.

This is the truth:  I am 46 years old.  In my short time on the planet I have understood some important aspects regarding friendships: do not cast them aside in the face of fear and do not take them for granted.  I never know who will say the magic words that increase my life, that polish the duller facets of my being.  I can never predict how and when the phrase “a friend in need is a friend indeed” will reveal itself to be a truism, but it has happened already, so I know that it is true.   I seek mentors and friends, guides and teachers through the increasing desolation of the modern wasteland.  How else can we as artists, indeed human beings, navigate the rocky shoals of life’s oceans without prior knowledge of the joys and dangers ahead?  I must ask the tough questions of myself but go to those with more experience for the answers.

To answer my earlier question, can true friendship really exist or are we all just ships passing in the night?  I think the answer to the former is ‘yes’, but it takes work and spirit.  It requires the ability to commit  and not flee.  I have done my share of that in the past so I have learned that lesson firsthand.  I know that true friendship is a rare and complicated jewel, fraught with emotion and happiness, somber moments of reflection but also deep sadness.  This is what one signs up for and, in the end, the commitment is worth the effort.

More to come…


One Response to The importance of friendship…

  1. Aravis May 22, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    I’m sorry that situations around you have been such that you’ve found yourself feeling melancholic. I hope that, when the air clears a little, all will be well again.

    Thank-you for sharing the story of your father’s friendship. How wonderful that, despite differences such as age, we can befriend and learn from one another.

    Friendships do require effort. Relationships are not always easy. I have actually made real friends through the social media you’ve mentioned. I’ve spoken with them on the phone, exchanged cards and letters, have met in person, and even vacationed with one. That being said, those friendships aren’t common, and also require a lot of work. Blurbs and tags do not a friendship make.

    I don’t always get back what I put in, but I’d rather put in for as long as I can (and as is healthy) than not try.

    You’re in my thoughts.