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Who is this person who is the friend, and who is the person who is not?

Tuesday 9/28/21

I know someone who is not a good person who is not a bad person. By the latter, I mean that they don't plot. They're not up to evil. They wish you well, and they are sincere in that. They are not laced with hate. They don't think of how they can hurt. They do hurt--because they are unthinking. They have no mental discipline. Their word is meaningless. They don't intend to deceive when they talk, and they may believe, in that half-second, that what they're saying is true, is what they're going to do, but thousands and thousands and thousands of times in a row, that is not the case. They don't grow. They don't try very hard in life, but they're like most people in that they need to think they do; but if they then experienced what it truly means to try hard, and work hard, like that was dropped into them for a week, they'd understand how far away they were from having the tiniest speck of a clue what that actually means. They don't try at anything in life. They are a lazy parent. Their kid will talk back to them at midnight, on a school night, making a comment about this person's drinking, hours after a child that age should even be up. But they won't understand anything being amiss about any of that. If one were to suggest that this was not the ideal picture of how such things are to go, they'd have a surcharge of anger. Not because you'd crossed a line and it was none of your business; but because they were defensive and worried that this was true. If something is put right in front of them that they have to deal with, they'll see that through. With true diligence. They can work at it for seventeen straight hours. But they would never think, "hmmm, there is this thing over hear I should attend to, which is important." No matter how simple it is. No matter how important it is. If it is literally a matter of life and death. There's no way--none--they'll have a switch go off in their brain that will tell them to tend to it. It's like it has to be hand-delivered to their doorstep. They're defensive. They're angry. They don't have any friends, because they're not capable of being a real friend. They would never put it that way to themselves. They'd say they were busy.

They are exceedingly perceptive. That is, they can look at a situation, an exchange, meet a person, and know exactly what is going on. They have a high, high batting average with this. In this way, they're probably the most perceptive person I've ever known. That's their primary intellectual value to me. They don't tell me anything I don't know, or approach the degrees to which I know it, but when you're out there on your own, and you solicit input, it's important to have a perceptive person. Because you can worry that because you're on your own, entirely, always on your own, you've led yourself astray with something. My father was perceptive this way. I would say this person is more so. They also have a great sense of humor. In Willam Sloane's To Walk the Night, he writes about someone who can see the reality of particular situation, the bottomline, without necessarily understanding the factors that create this bottomline. In the margin of the book, next to that passage, I long ago wrote this particular person's name that I know. But it's not with everything. It's just with some things. But they have much more of a knack for that than anyone else I've known.

But that is the absolute end of their mental value. They don't have an ethical value, a dependability value, because I'd never trust them, never count on them, because they never tell the truth, by which I mean, they never live up to their word. Or very rarely. Maybe once a year. But if they say it, it's not going to be done. Usually, they will never even think about it again, if they actually thought about it at all. If a person is only as good as their word, then that would be quite an indictment for this individual. They don't think. They don't cogitate going forward. They won't work through a complex problem or situation and come to understand it better. They're not wired to even try. They're an out-of-sight-out-of-mind person. They can see truth in others, but they bristle against the reality of those same truths existing in them. If someone else behaved how they did, and you shared your experience with such a person with this person, this person would know exactly what was going on with that other person. They'd call them out for exactly what they were. They could have good advice, which came from a position of understanding. They can see through murk in these situations that most others can't. But they can't see it when they are the exact same way. There is no one in their life that cares about any of this. Who challenges them at all, in any way. That's added up over the years. And it will continue that way for many decades. They have no external mental stimulation. No interests. There is nothing they know a lot about. There's nothing they learn about.

It's someone who is never going to grow, who is weak in many ways. They don't handle pressure well. They don't handle stress well. You don't want them in your fox hole, but then again, they'd also probably be better there than a lot of other people would, which does not mean what one might hope it does. But again, they're perceptive, and not up to evil. Though, frankly, the results are often the same. They have no empathy. They never will. It's not who they are. In theory, they would like to. Sounds good to them. But they don't know what they don't know. They don't know what it means to have purpose, to work hard. To think hard. They hear, and they think that hearing is the same as listening, but usually they're working on their next lines--they use a lot of metaphors--in their head. You could tell them that this one thing means the world to you, could they please do it. It could be a simple, simple thing. That's not a "trip" you lay on them often. They will tell you they'll do it. But it can be years--and they can see what it's doing to you--before they do it. Something that might take very little time or energy or effort. This is who they are. They'll never change, they'll never grow. This is who they will be until they die. If I knew good people, we wouldn't know each other. Or we'd know each other from very far away. A couple texts maybe once a year, about sports. It's someone I once wished I'd be good friends with. In fact, from the moment I met them. They stood out to me. But we're not friends at all, and I behave towards them, with my hellish life, in my constant pain, doing far more every day, every second of every day, in my loneliness, in my poverty, against all of my obstacles, in a way they never do towards me, with their comparatively much easier life. I am there for them, with never an excuse, never a "I'm too busy," without fail. Without a single exception. They know that no matter what is happening to me, if they need anything from me, or want anything from me, it is automatic. They will count on me, when they really need something, more than their own family. Count on my strength, my wisdom, my devotion to them. I could be dying within the next hour, and I am there for them. They are almost never there for me. And they wouldn't be. They know, too, that what I've just expressed is true. But it still wouldn't change their behavior. They cannot name anything I've done to them that is wrong. They can't cite a single instance of me letting them down. Of me not living up to my word. Of me hurting them. Of me failing to do the right thing, within the context of our knowing each other.

When I say I don't have friends, this is what I mean, in part. This person is the best I have. But I cannot in good faith call such a person anything close to a friend. I know others would, but I don't think those are real friendships. I think those are people texting about sports and drinking beer and laughing at the same jokes. Friendship, to me, is something more substantial. And it has to have the things in place that are not in place, will probably never be in place, with this person I know. I think friendship, or something more resembling friendship, becomes a greater likelihood when you have two people who are each neither good people, nor bad people, and it also then something that is not vetted at all. I think true friendship is something that is perpetually active. It doesn't just happen. It's seeking to do good for another. And it's certainly doing what that other does for you. Yes, there are dips, cycles. But a cycle is different than the status quo. It's certainly embodying your word, because the foundation of friendship is dependability, and a foundation of dependability is trust. Trust is the foundation of most amazing things in life. Or art. Of love. Of vulnerability. Of courage. Oftentimes, that trust begins with ourselves. Do we trust ourselves enough to risk being hurt? In that we trust that we are strong enough, if we are hurt, to put ourselves back together again, and try again. There is no friendship without trust. There is neither, without the value of one's words. Words are actions, in very real ways. And actions are words. And words are words and actions are actions. But I think very few people understand how both words and actions have to be active and true and focused--devotional--for a friendship to be a real friendship. Or, really, for many of the valuable things in life to be able to exert themselves and be felt and known in the fullness of their value.


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