March 10, 2004

The Persistence of Friendship
Today, a good friend thanked my wife and I for keeping him in our lives. While I appreciated the sentiment, it seemed a bit absurd to me. That's kind of like thanking the bank for not foreclosing on your house: If you pay your dues, what reason would they have for giving it up? He's always been there for us, and we return the favor. Melissa and I are both going to be in our thirties next month, and at this stage of life, there is no room for half-friendships. As harsh as it might sound, when your free time starts to come at a premium, you look for the most return on your time investment. You divide out those who give you as much support and laughter as you give to them, and those are the friends you keep.

Some people, myself included, are "relationship pack-rats": You just can't let go of anything, no matter how impractical or pointless. I've tried in vain to keep people in my life who didn't fit in it anymore, because I'm a nice guy at the core and I don't want to hurt people's feelings. As I start into my thirties, with most of my free time happily invested with my wife and son, I have started to let go of friends on the fringes and focus my remaining time on the people that really matter.

I've learned something else as well: Your best friendships may not even be the ones that you have the most contact with. This is what I told my friend :"While there has been plenty of time and opportunity for our friendship to drift away, like others we've known, this one hasn't. We might not see each other very much lately, but that doesn't change things between us one bit. We understand that no matter what goes on in the outside world, we are still the same people, and those people will retain the bonds that we have built together. At a certain point, friendship transcends physical and electronic contact, and exists on it's own as a sovereign nation."

True friendship is a sort of religion in itself. You seek it when you need strength, direction or solace. You give it when others are in need of the same. Comfort and peace is found in its transactions. Take away religion's stained glass and theological trappings, and at the most fundamental level, it's all about friendship. It's all about how you treat your neighbor and how they treat you. I believe that 99% of the miracles that have ever come to pass are due to one person looking after another.

Even if you don't believe in God, everyone can get behind the universal truth in friendship. Myself, I'm a Christian. I don't doubt the ideology or the existence of the Trinity, I believe it wholeheartedly. I just think that God takes the bumper sticker slogan "Think Globally - Act Locally" to heart: God cares for the world by inspiring the masses to care for each other individually.

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