I very rarely write posts about myself or my life on Mukoko. I don’t believe that a blog should exist for the writer, but for the readers. No one actually wants to know about your life unless you’re Kim Kardashian or Beyoncé or Rihanna.
But I must make an exception today because I think some value can be gained by my spilling my guts here. I want to talk about friendship.
When I was in preschool my best friend was a girl named Farai. I still have her phone number memorised. I wonder where she is now, what she’s up to in life. In junior school my best friend was Grace. I guess we called ourselves "best friends" because KTV (the kids channel) told us that cool kids have best friends.
High school came with a whole new pool of people to be friends with. This, I was told, is the place where you will meet with the friends that you will have for life. But today many of the people I thought I was close to are strangers to me.
This year has given me a lot of perspective regarding friendship. Okay, so maybe the right word is frustration, not perspective. I must warn you, none of these observations are based on cold, hard facts. Most of them are probably the fruit of my intense hormones and my tendency to be sensitive about things. But just because they are more emotional than intellectual, does not make my observations any less valuable.
I. Proximity is a very powerful force. ‘Closeness’ has a lot to do with being in the same physical space as another person – like sharing a room with them or doing the same classes. When someone is far away sustaining a friendship with them is hard work. Hard, maybe too hard. They’re not part of your every day so they begin to fade into the distance. You miss them at first but with time you learn to be okay, even better without them.
II. Silence equals absence equals oblivion. I’ve heard it said that a baby recognises her mother’s voice from the womb and will respond to it even after they’re born. A loved one’s voice is important in relationships. Let me prove it to you. You know that thing called the ‘silent treatment’? The person giving the silent treatment is trying does it to make the other feel their absence, to prove a point. Silence is the same as not having someone’s presence in your life. And when someone doesn’t show up in your life you start to feel forgotten. Silence equals absence equals oblivion.
III. Expectations are king. Every one of your relationships that matters is built on expectations. Think back to the last time you felt disappointed with a friend. You expected them to remember your birthday but they forgot. On the flip side, satisfaction in relationships comes from expectations being met or exceeded. You expected a gift for your birthday but you got a gift and a surprise birthday party. The worst thing about expectations is that they are very rarely communicated, we expect the other person to just "know". Inevitably, what that leads to is disappointment, offense and feeling unappreciated.
When things get hard – proximity shifts, silence comes, expectations are unmet- we all seem to tend towards giving up rather than persevering. And that had me thinking, well, what’s the point?! Why be bonded only to break up? Why be known only to be forgotten? Why hope if all it leads to is disappointment?
"Absolute futility," says the Teacher. "Absolute futility. Everything is futile." Ecclesiastes 1:2
I think I may have had a brief existential crisis when I realised not just the fragility of my friendships but the fragility of my life. The futility of friendships, the futility of life.
Maybe futile is the wrong word, "fleeting" is a better one. Even lifelong friends are parted by death.
Friendship is absolutely futile and therefore absolutely meaningless. Without God.
Without God, friendship has no meaning. Love has no meaning, hate has no meaning, everything loses its purpose.
With God we find meaning in friendship. And in everything. That’s all I have for now, but it’s enough to keep my heart tethered.