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Sunday, February 6, 2011

day 34: friends, forced company and making a choice

I had something of a revelation a couple of years back and I was reminded of it today in a conversation with a bandmate. I remember thinking about all of my friends and realizing how little choice I had had in them. Before feelings get hurt, please, lay down your arms. I'm being purposely sensational. Let me esplain.

   Think back on your meeting of your closest friends. I would bet that almost all of those friendships began in a situation of 'forced company'. As in you worked with them, took a class with them, were in a band with them, were roommates, etc. In some way you had to be in their company for extended periods of time. And in some ways, this means that if you had met this person and not had a reason to spend time with them, they may have passed you by without ever making an impact on your life. This might sound like a pretty harsh assesment, as though saying "I wouldn't spend time with you if I didn't have to", but it shouldn't, and that's not what I'm driving at. The fact is, I've been in classes with hundreds of different people and probably been coworkers to even more. The very small percentage of those people I still spend time with are among the coolest people I've met, and certainly the ones I've resonated with the most. That's just how friendship usually begins. My old apartment mate is a great example. We started living next to each other in our 2nd year of college and all told, there's a good chance without that and the first ensemble we played in together we may not have ever become the friends we are now. Instead, we've spent the last seven years talking, laughing, arguing, crying, growing and messing up in each others' company. I wouldn't do a thing to change our friendship today and hope it never ceases, even if circumstance did play a part in it's beginnings.

   No, I don't cite this to devalue the wonderful friends in my life, but I do resent the flip-side. The flip-side being that we some times come across people that we share a very visceral, instant connection with and without a reason, or 'forced company', we rarely take the time to cultivate that friendship. This made me sad. Off-hand I was able to think of at least 3 people I had met for one reason or another, had a lot of fun with, and then never saw again. And I know I'm not the only one. I'm not sure if this is due to faith in fate (where if you're "meant" to meet again, you will) or simply a complacency with the natural order of the universe, but it all began to strike me as strange. We rarely choose our friends, our circumstances do. I don't regret the amazing people 'chance' has put in my life, I simply wonder if we can take control of the other part. I wondered at it so much, I eventually gave it a go.

   It started with trying to call an old friend from college to tell her how much fun I thought she was and how engaging her conversation had been. I tried to set up a time to grab coffee but I think in a way she couldn't get passed the idea that I might be coming on to her and I eventually gave up. I tried it with a guy friend but reached a personal impasse, not knowing how to ask for a man date and not trusting to tell him it's because I felt a "connection" with him (it's a trust issue, not a too manly issue). 

   Overall it's been a challenging path but it has had some success. One of my friends (the chap I was aiding in romance in day 11) who I used to share employ with has become one of these. We didn't work together a lot at our job and he has since moved to Edmonton, but we recently reconnected and he may be on his way back to TO. This really would be a friendship by choice, and it's one I really hope stands the test of time because he is an incredibly genuine person and that's a rare quality.

   Maybe this is all part of needing control, but some times you do have to supersede the natural order of things to get what you want. You wont always get it, and that's okay, but you'll certainly never get it if you never try. Think about it. Imagine someone amazing you met in the past, some one you didn't get a chance to reconnect with. Why didn't it stick? Can you offer something to get the conversation going again? Do you have the courage to try? Because who really knows, it could become one of the defining friendships of your life. And you can go through it knowing that you didn't leave it up to fate, and you didn't leave it up to chance. You chose a friend. And now I'm choosing a friend. His name is bed. And we're besties.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely agree with you that forced friendships are some of the best ones out there. I think part of that has to do with the fact that we ourselves are not always the best judge of people both in terms of their personality, morals, goals and also in their appropriate-ness as our friends and companions. I have chosen to be friends with certain people for years and years and realised that the friendship itslef had probably died quite a while back but I kept it going for force of habit and comfort. Whereas, I have friendships with certain people that I'm sure will last forever and I think a lot of that has to do with fate doing the choosing for me. We may not have a ton in common on the surface, but sometimes common interests and personalities aren't the most necessary aspects of a friendship. I think more and more it has to do with opposites and complimentary characteristics that simply fall in to place by chance like puzzle pieces.

    All this to say that while I think you're totally on with the "forced" friendships concept, I still (and I think I've told you this before) find your approach to pursual of friendships a bit unusual. Not to say that I disagree with it, because I don't. I wouldn't be writing this otherwise. BUT it explains why the first girl might have just assumed you were hitting on her, and why the guy might have been put off by your advances. Human beings are inherantly lazy when it comes to each other, and that's why this kind of aggressive approach might not always be received as you would hope.

    Perserverance is key, but you've already got lots of that, so I say god speed! The more you do this, the more others will too, and little by little it might come to seem less weird.