<--Added on 8/22/08 for migration to TPB -->
Random Jottings : On friendship
This evening, I sat back in office for a few hours with one of my colleagues. He was going on a long trip with his wife this weekend and we burnt a CD with 150+ Ilayaraja songs to occupy his mind during the long drive.
We are as different as chalk from cheese. He is very much a creation who thrives on instinct. While I am the incorrigible analyst who would think four times before making a decision. Although we both had similar views on a few things, the contrasts are quite striking. And despite all that, we were very comfortable with each other. It was fun to talk with him for hours - I would normally stroll to his desk at around 4 in the evening and we would chat animatedly for an hour before leaving for the day. It would be typical of him to bounce from topic to topic in that exchange, while I would be struggling to explore every subject from its very origin and take it logically to its grave. But he did have a patient ear and I could even afford to go on a philosophical jaunt at times or take a U-turn and reveal my coldly pragmatic side. Either way he was receptive. The fact that he had a short attention span suited me, I could press his buttons and get away with it.
This makes me wonder - why are we comfortable with some people and why not with others? Why is it we are more tolerant, receptive and accomodating to some and not so with others?
In my early days, I was a sucker for what I would call "Friendship-at-first-sight". Whenever I had to start life in a new environment and I saw someone interesting(i.e, possessing the qualities that I strongly approved), I tended to be really nice and give a lot more latitude in my interactions with that person than usual. Ultimately we would end up being close friends. I guess most of my close friends were "won" this way. That pretty much taught me - friendships are a matter of choice. No matter how stark the differences, you can still forge out a really good relationship with anyone if you want to. IF YOU WANT TO. You can put up with anyone in this world.
As the years passed and my interests and outlook broadened, I was less picky. I pretty much realised that every one of us is a hypocrite with a Hitlerian and Gandhian streak existing side by side, each of them wrestling with each other. Life ultimately is a series of never-ending compromises. There are no absolutes. There is nothing repulsively bad in any individual. Individuals make choices depending on how their environment and experiences condition them. Once I reached this state, I dropped my guard. The realisation that everything-is-grey became such an overwhelming obsession that I would become guilty whenever I was extra-nice towards someone. I started killing any hint of emotion and preference I saw in myself.
Then of course there are those roller-coaster relationships. There would be people with whom the overall vibes were good. But sometimes the more close you get, the more the contrasts will stand out. This was the most frustrating part. And in such cases, I would begin my subtle experiments. It did prick me inside that I was treating a human as a guinea pig. But honest to God, I genuinely believed I had the welfare of that person in mind and I was doing it in his/her better interests. I would keep our interactions to all the agreeable things and keep all conflicting issues away. Pretty soon, we hit a few peaks. Sometimes, during our good times, I would feel like looking my pal in the eye and saying, "You know what, you are a mere pendulum oscillating on your emotions. A human laugh-o-meter. Nothing more. I kept all hotbed issues away and we've having fabulous vibes the past few weeks. Did you realise that you are just floating inside a soap bubble. You might as well have hung around with a slick-tongued salesman or an air-hostess who tickles your ear and you could have had a swell time!".
But few more of this experiments gave me a new realisation - that I was who was trying to play God and it's high time I mighty well stopped it. Stop trying to turn people into carbon copies. Accept the fact that each human is an insecure creation of shaky preferences on the inside. Forget those jarring notes and focus on their good side. Of course there are some tough cases but then, the majority are still good with wholesome motives on the whole. The tough intractable humans are usually the ones who have the deepest insecurity within themselves. The stiff exterior is just a cover-up for a fragile mental composition. Therefore, just be good, have honest intentions with everyone and on the whole, life will be fair.
Getting back to the evening, as we packed our bags and wished each other happy holidays, I remarked to my pal that the evening twilight and our conversation on holiday eve took me back to those Friday evenings in my childhood days - when distances were larger, when there were no vehicles or telephones, when I would hang around till 5PM in school with a close pal, and we would roam all over the school in eager conversation, with a touch of dismay that the weekend was putting a minor break on our companionship, and ultimately catch the last bus to our respective homes. We discussed a bit about our childhood friends and how we would never meet them again. As we hit the road, my friend concluded "Times have to change, life goes on ultimately, on the whole it treats you well if you treat it reasonably well. It's a difficult but fair life after all". As I smirked in the darkness having elicited a philosophical quote from my pal, the light turned green and it was time to move.