Larnook. Sunday, 2.15pm
Friendships are important. They must be, I reckon – there are so many Facebook memes about them:
Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there.
Aww. So true. A million likes can’t be wrong.
Therefore, given their comparable virtual popularity, cats with turbans, genetic underbites and imposed human foibles must also be important.
Cats are like stars…
But, despite the glib friendship memes that pop up, like floaters, on my social media, I do know that friendships are important – even though I’m not sure what makes a friend. (You are my friend, dear reader, and I hardly know you.)
Sure, your phone will define friendship for you if you don’t have time to think. You’ll realise, with just a touch of the screen, that a friend is like a good bra: difficult to find, supportive, lifts you up and is always close to your heart.
Ha. Funny. (Lots of likes.) But who wants to be a bra? (Okay. Gary has just put up his hand…)
What is noticeable about these memes is that they are mostly about what you get from friendship. In today’s culture we are obsessed about ourselves; about what we can get for ourselves out of life, out of people. Me, me, me. As the world wobbles into catastrophe, we surround ourselves with self-development books, I-Am-A-Goddess workshops, and Empower-Yourself-Financially meditations.
But it’s all useless; the only way to have a happy life and stabilise the planet is to help others, not yourself. (Socrates, Jesus, Superman…) To give. Maybe this is the secret of friendship.
I lost a friend a while ago. No, the person didn’t die, marry or convert to Hillsong Worship. One day, our long friendship just evaporated like morning dew. Gone. A sudden ending more in the style of lovers than friends.
Lovers come and go, but friends are forever, my ex (twice removed) says, quoting Facebook, and, glass in hand, prepares to tidy up last night’s Champagne.
My friend and I were not lovers, but, as good friends do, we loved each other. Then one day we had an argument. Oh dear. But no problem, I thought. As another cutesy meme, with its pair of friendly cats holding paws, goes:
True friendship is when you fight with your friend over stupid things… and become friends again after five minutes!
According to this meme, mine wasn’t a true friendship. But what does Facebook know? It felt like it, but maybe I didn’t give enough.
Luckily, I have other friends. Today, I’m surrounded by them. Not far from my shack under the cliffs at the end of the world, I’m sunk in a camping chair outside a friend’s cabin, enjoying the mottled relief a tree gives on this September scorcher, sipping – let me check the bottle – a pinot noir, and listening to the dappled conversation around me.
It’s the friend’s post-birthday-party recovery party and his friends (many are my friends too) have gathered to generously clean up all the leftover booze and food from last night. Aww.
One friend, whom I haven’t seen in ages and who is now selflessly getting rid of last night’s duck salad (with lemon myrtle dressing), smiles at me between swallows. She sent me a meme about a year ago that read:
I love that our friendship can survive without ever keeping in touch.
I didn’t respond.
I ‘m learning that friendship is about giving, about helping others. I’m here helping my mate clean up as much wine as I can. That’s what friends are for. Another bottle is opened. Hard work.
I raise my glass to friends and wish them well.