Saturday, February 20, 2010

Life's Gift: Friends

Recent events have made me think a lot about my friends. No, not my Facebook "friends" (although there's considerable overlap there) - I mean the people I've come to know in reality, rather than the cyber-world. Your family is important, of course, but their presence in your life is more or less mandatory. Your friends have chosen voluntarily to be with you, and not simply because they have to put up with you. They enjoy being in your presence and do so whenever circumstances permit. They overlook things about you that they may not like because, for them, the pleasure you bring into their world outweighs whatever annoyance they might feel about what you say and do about some things.

Some of my younger acquaintances seem too prone to say "Life sucks!" when things go wrong in their lives. I suppose I may be a bit impatient when I hear such things from younger folks - many of their problems are pretty small in comparison to the really tragic things that have befallen some of my other friends. I want to tell them that life may have much worse things to dish out for them in the future. And they should be more willing to count their blessings than to focus on their problems. Further, no matter how bad things seem to be, they can always be worse! And so things have become bad for some of my friends. I feel so helpless when terrible things happen to them. In so many cases, there's little or nothing I can do. I try my best to do whatever I'm able to do, but it seems so inadequate.

And I ask myself, "Why have I been so lucky compared to some of my friends?" Evidently, there's no reason for it. I don't pretend to understand why bad things happen to good people - it's one of many things about this world I don't understand. "Why them?" I ask. "What have they done to deserve such anguish and pain?" But there's no answer for these questions, either. And, to quote Clint Eastwood in The Unforgiven ... "Deservin's got nothing to do with it!"

Nevertheless, I'm grateful for my good fortune, regardless of the reasons for it, if any. And my friends are one of the most treasured parts of that good fortune. If I fail to serve our friendship as often and as much as I should, please bear with me. I think of you often, my friends. Your presence in my life has made it so good, I'm almost ashamed to admit how good it's been. Life has its ups and downs, but friendships are a great way to both ride out the downs and to celebrate the ups.