How important is friendship to you? What values would you, or wouldn’t you, compromise on in relation to your friends? What would a friend have to do to you for you to decide to break up with them, and what would you forgive them for or accept in them?
They say that when a person is about to die, because maybe they have a terrible, mortal illness, they start to realize what is really important in life. And then they become aware of what is truly important to them personally and what isn’t. That most things that people get so riled up about aren’t all that important, transcendental or life-altering.
Most of us, I think, if we stopped to think about it at all, would probably agree that the people that we care about, our friends and loved ones, are the most important things in the world and without them the world would be an insipid place devoid of any meaning.
If you were about to die, what would you prefer, a chance to hug your friends and loved ones one more time, or would that dollar, or even those 100 dollars, that your best friend or your brother owes you, make you so inflamed that you’d prefer to leave without seeing that friend or brother again, because when you catch a glimpse of them you remember that they still owe you $100?
$100 which you will never get the chance to use anyways. Because when you leave this world you won’t be able to take it with you.
I have a very prickly relationship with a friend who makes me question all these things. She makes me become aware of the fact that, in truth, most people don’t think too much about friendship or their friends, or value them overly much.
I know a lot of people, and I do mean a LOT, who don’t want friends. Who prefer to lock themselves away in their homes, even sometimes in homes that are as large and luxurious as castles, and turn their backs to the world. They’re afraid of bringing their friends into their homes because maybe their friends might break that antique Ming vase, get into their computer and steal money from their bank account or make too much noise.
So they hide themselves away in their mansions with the Ming vase, the bank account jam-packed with savings that could be stolen and their silence, unbroken by the merriment of happy children playing or loved ones pounding away at whatever their loved ones most enjoy pounding away at.
Well, I acknowledge that we’re all free to live our lives the way we want and fill our hours with whatever we prefer. And I respect that some people are happier living behind locked doors and walls surrounded by all the objects that attest to how successful and prosperous they are materially and financially.
But really, if you throw your friend or brother out because they owe you $100 and can’t pay it back to you, you’re telling them loud and clear that these people and their relationship to you are worth less than $100. That clearly you care more about your $100 than about your friend, or brother. That money is more important to you than a person, a person that you supposedly care about and feel at least some affection for.
Of course it doesn’t have to be $100. Maybe you threw your friend or brother out because they forgot to buy you something that you asked them to. Not because they didn’t care about you, maybe just because, like me, they have a memory full of holes like a sieve and can’t remember anything if they don’t write it down in 50 agendas.
Now, I do psychic readings (you can find out more about these readings if you’re interested here), I love doing them and enjoy them very much and would never ever miss a session with anyone for anything but you can be sure, even so, if I don’t write it down in about 50 places I would never ever remember when I have a session with whom. I’m not like this on purpose, I don’t forget things in order to mess up other people’s lives on purpose. I just simply have a memory with more holes than a sieve, naturally.
So, returning to the subject of my friend, she is a person who constantly gets angry about things that I consider trivial. (I won’t say what things specifically because then if she reads this post then she will know who she is, and I don’t want that. I’m not in the game of trying to “teach her a lesson” through this post or anything like that. I’m not her teacher, her mother or her mentor and I have no interest in teaching her anything.)
Obviously, these are things that she clearly doesn’t consider trivial. To her they are very important. And I respect that. I try to do what she wants me to do when I’m with her, because so many things offend her, but of course people are full of surprises and unless you live with a person for several years you can never completely guess what sorts of things will get to them. Especially when we’re talking about a person who gets offended by so many things.
So I don’t go out of my way to deliberately try and do things that I know would bother or offend her. But of course even though I do psychic readings that doesn’t make me a mind-reader, hence I don’t know and couldn’t possibly guess absolutely every little thing that could bother or offend her. So sometimes I do do things that bother her. Not on purpose, of course.
But as far as she is concerned, it doesn’t matter if I did it on purpose or not. She always assumes that I did it on purpose, and calls me a liar if I tell her otherwise.
So, we are still friends. Mostly because I value her friendship, because outside of these (admittedly irritable, I won’t deny) characteristics she is still a great and fantastic person.
And I suppose deep down she must also value our friendship, because I imagine otherwise I guess that she wouldn’t still want to continue being friends with someone like me who is always all the time going out of their way to “deliberately” do things that “I know” she hates.
But it does make me wonder, what is more important to her, really, and to people like her? Her friends? Or that her friends be perfect, never forget anything, always adapt themselves to her and to what she wants, etc.?
Okay so now I can hear maybe a couple of readers timidly (or maybe loudly) clamouring out: And what about boundaries?? What about boundaries? We can lend $100 to a friend or brother once, but what about that cousin who is always sneaking around snitching $100 from our pockets every time they lose at gambling? Or that friend who never stops doing things that we hate, on purpose?
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have boundaries. Boundaries are important. They’re an important aspect that help make us whole. (Well I’m not going to sermonize on about boundaries here, entire books have been written on that subject already.)
But if we lent money once to a friend and they haven’t paid it back to us yet, because they can’t, I don’t see that any boundaries have been violated. Our friend was in need, we helped them, now when they are able they will return the favour to us. If they can return the money to us, great. But maybe they are poor. Maybe instead of giving us money they could work for a week for us doing secretarial tasks, cleaning our house or taking care of our kids. Who says that trading and bartering no longer exist or are out of fashion?
Is that money worth more than your friendship? And what if it were your spouse, child or parent, someone you loved more than anyone? Would you still kick them out over $100? Do you love that $100 more than you love your friend or beloved one?
Remember, you can’t take it with you when you leave the earth.
But the memories of what you did when you lived will still be alive when you no longer are.
Do you want people who were close to you to remember that you were that friend who turned your back on them because they couldn’t return your money to you? Or because they did something silly – now I’m not saying something really “big” or important like cheating on you, I mean something really silly and trivial, like for example maybe they forgot to turn the light off in your home when they were there visiting and the two of you left the house together, thus resulting in an increase in $10 in your electricity bill for that month?