Friendship is a subject we come back to time and time again at What Men Do. Rarely a week goes by here at WMD HQ when the topic doesn’t get some air-time in the regular conversations that start with the words “I’ve been thinking…..”.
It’s been even more prevalent in my mind of late as we are currently in the process of producing
a third edition of the What Men Do Guide (watch this space) and the chapter on Friendship is currently languishing on my desk awaiting a rewrite – having been passed between the three of us like a baby whose nappy needs changing.
There are two problems faced when writing about Friendship. The first is something we have observed before; the fact that any words used to describe the relationship between two very close Friends always seem to be somehow dissatisfying, always falling short of the mark in some way.
It is this reason why one of our favourite quotes is Michel de Montaigne’s words describing the reasons for his Friendship with Etienne de la Boetie: “because it was him; because it was me.”
The second problem with writing about Friendship is that it requires you to look in to the subject with some degree of depth, and once put under scrutiny you realise that it defies making any sense.
When a close Friend is on your mind it appears as though everything is always hugs and rainbows – the knowledge that this guy has got your back no matter the situation is the foundation of all thoughts about him.
But when pulling that bond apart in an attempt to see its inner workings suddenly all logic ceases to exist. You realise that if this was to be examined in some kind of academic way – say every detail of each partner in the Friendship was listed side by side, or in the scientists favourite form, a graph – then the reasons for these two lives to overlap, nevermind be tightly bonded, are tenuous to the brain at best.
And forget about the hugs and rainbows. While it’s true that in a tight Friendship the other guy provides you with happiness by the bucket load and many of the high points in life emotionally, they also seem to be the ones that provide the most frustration, anger and heartbreak.
Whether it’s the frustration of saying ‘everything is fine’ when it clearly isn’t – why won’t this guy I’m supposedly tight with share what’s darkening his mind – or the blood boiling anger when the boneheaded bastard seems to show no support at all to decisions you’ve made, Friends can be the most annoying of fuckers.
But there’s always the tickling thought in the back of your mind, even in the midst of a earthshaking shouting match, or even a full blown punch up (in which no matter how angry you are the punches are always pulled), that even though on the surface you hate the guy right now you know that if something major happened that instant – say your phone rings and you discover a loved one is ill or worse – then the fight, no matter how intense, will immediately be put on hold and your Friend has your back once again. All disagreements forgotten about.
Even when you think back to those times of anger and frustration the conclusion always is that it’s worth it to have that guy as your Friend, to have him as the guy shielding your back in battle – even when you’re tempted to kill the fucker, and he seems intent on killing you, for some reason you still trust him with your life. Logically, it makes no sense.
But then why should it? Logic, ‘making sense’, these exist in the realms of what we call the
‘Thinking’ man, the area which developed alongside writing and reading which, considering the time that Homo Erectus has been around, ain’t that long.
The bonding inherent in Friendship is far more primordial, deeply rooted in the unexplainable ‘Sensing’ and irrationality of Feelings.
And maybe shrouded in mystery – being unexplainable – is exactly how it belongs, the unknown being at the heart of what makes life Real and provides the Struggle necessary to being alive.
As a final thought, the hardships which go alongside a Friendship are inevitable and are a positive as they tend to strengthen the bond that exists between you.
As Bob Marley put it: “The truth is, everyone’s going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”