Sunday, August 31, 2014

Friendship: The Best Thing that Comes to Life

It seems that life in my region goes through a closed circle. When you feel that you have reached a degree of peaceful living and you start to make tentative plans for your life, violence erupts again and brings you back to square one, as uncertainty and stress dominate.

In the past, I have managed to overcome my stress through different activities such as drawing, reading, watching movies and listening to music. In the last couple of years, however, social media has been my stress-relief tool. I started actively using the Internet around the year 2008, connecting with my old friends scattered around the world and making new friends. 

Friends through social media come and go just like in real life. Nevertheless, they can truly affect our lives during the span of our connection and sometimes well beyond.

I recall when Dad was on his death bed, he kept asking Mum about his old friends and neighbors. Mum first thought that he was delusional and said, “Why don’t you ask about your brothers and sisters?” His answer rather striking: “My brothers and sisters know that I am about to die and have not shown up for a visit. I want to know if my old friends know how I am doing and if anyone inquired about me.” Dad’s statement was clear and came straight from the heart. 

Dad had an outgoing and remarkable personality that made him very lovable and enjoyable to be with. When he died at the age of 94, a large number of his long-lost friends attended his funeral service. 
“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” ― A.A. Milne, author of Winnie-the-Pooh
Coming back to me, over the years and especially during our times of crisis, many of my current and long lost friends contacted me to offer help and support. Do I expect everyone to call? Of course not. Some could be overwhelmed dealing with their own personal problems. It seems that others wish to join me only during times of happiness or peace, or connect with me because they simply need me and do not want to give anything in return.

What I have learned from the many different friendships I have made over the years in real life and on social media is the following:

  • Being afraid to connect with new people because they might not become genuine friends could endanger the possibility of making any valuable connection. 
  • Getting obsessed with the idea that social media friends are not real and can’t do any good for us is an absurd thought since over the years some of my social media friends showed me far more empathy and compassion than the “real-life” ones.
  • Showing people that you care does not mean that you want to possess them. It only means that they are special; they can count on you at any time and trust you with their friendship. 
  • Trying to contact someone after a long period of disconnection does not mean that you are out of touch with reality. People we once loved and cared about are always in the back of our mind and they can pop up unexpectedly in our thoughts and in our lives. 
  • Don't be too busy for your friends, and don't take them for granted. When I ask myself which person in my life means the most to me, I often think of those who have equally shared my joy and pain, talked to me in an hour of confusion and listened to me relentlessly.
“Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” ― Albert Camus 

* I would like to thank my friend Richard Pennington for his most valuable comments!