Friends are important. Really important.
I was thinking about another benefit of friendship today when an acquaintance on the telephone began exploring deeply personal issues and crossing boundaries with his frustrations. I didn’t really know this guy that well, and I was a bit shocked at his behavior. Then it dawned on me, he is friendless. Although he has plenty of acquaintances, he has not confidant. Therefore a stranger, an animal, or a lightpost can take away his pain.
High times, toasts, and roaring laughter I often associated with friendship, but vulnerability, trust, and accountability are another face of friends. As humans we need partnerships of trust to listen to our pain, counsel us in our grief, and kick us squarely in the seat of the pants from time to time. These partnerships enable us to appropriately invest our intimate feelings in safe harbors, and then we can regroup for the rest of the world. But a relationally fractured individual may freely invest intimacy inappropriately, or, on the other hand, they may harden and invest nowhere–ultimately left to die an emotional death.
Today, I was shocked and amused at the conversation, but ultimately I was left with pity. A world so full of people yet so fragmented.
Okay, Doug, I left that one without saying anything smart ass at the end, so there.