Somethings stand the test of time. Some friendships are like that. You may think this statement to be one of the most cliched ones I've ever made. If that is so, for once, I do not give a damn.
Thank you for still reading on. The last few days have been reunion times - with some old friends, some not so old ones. As I went to meet them, there were some uncertainties in my mind. Will it still be as we left it? Will I still be able to be myself, carefree with them? Will they feel the same about me? We are still fairly the same as voices over the telephone. But would the re-embodiment of our voices evoke a different response from our nervous systems?
There is the initial warm-up time, just like how some muscles in your body seem a little strained when you decide to exercise on the new-year's day after four years of hibernation. It almost always begins with a much abused, "so what's up", graduating to factual, non-sentimental recap of 'events thus far', sprinkled with a dash of some old-time humour to put us on the same track, gradually metamorphosing to things we really care about, things we were dying to talk about. Apparently, both my friends and I went through the same initial hesitation to slowly find Time where we left it. Like a song, it almost always comes back to the sam. Thank God!
As I am growing up, I am rediscovering or rather redefining the meaning of friendship. I used to think that the true test of friendship is how often a friend is there for you, how much is still common between you. I now realize that there is no true test of friendship. To put it to any test would be to dishonour it. The only test there is to pass is the one within my own self. Am I willing to love without trying to hold? It is a weird kind of love - both self-centered and self-abnegating at the same time. It is self-centered because I realize that after my family, it is only my friends that I can count on, that I am even fond of. In that sense, I need them. It is self-abnegating because it is the only kind of love that teaches you to love without trying to possess, without trying to label as "mine only". Because you understand that your own need for your friends is inherently self-centered, you also understand that it is equally valid for your friend's need for you to be self-centered too. And this, paradoxically, makes it much easier for you to give without keeping a count of take, to let go of grudges and larger-than-life expectations. The self-centered love leads to and coexists with the self-abnegating love. A beautiful contradiction that allows for the imperfections that are so much part of being human.
What about out of sight out of mind? As time passes by and distances separate with diligent ferocity, despite revolutions in communication technology, do friendships take a hit? If I expect to find back the same person I left behind when we were still playing Ludo, I can rest assured of disappointment. The test does not lie in the distance but within myself. Can I accept the change in them and the change in me as a new dimension, adding to the beautiful complexity of our relationship? Or do I see the changes as markers of the end of a bygone era? As I am growing up and redefining what friendship means to me, I am beginning to think of it as two waves with a phase difference (pardon the lack of exactitude in physics) , dancing rhythmically with each other as well as separately from each other, sometimes to add up, sometimes to subtract and bring down. It is this phase difference where together and separate, love-you and love-myself, you-first and me-first coexist, which makes friendship different from anything else - not the promise of everlasting love but the happiness of being part of each other's lives; not the solemnness of sacrifice but the sincerity of doing one's best.
(I will hit the post button without reading this twice, lest I decide against it for being too sentimental and keep it forever to myself, as we so often and regrettably do)