Monday, August 13, 2012

the edgelessness of friendship

After several consecutive days of living in butterscotch pudding, today's dawn arrived crisp as a stalk of white celery: The viscosity, the weighting and the freighting were, for the moment, gone, and things were light and bright.

Last night, I was chatting on the phone with a friend. We were just a couple of old farts, segueing from topic to topic without much regard for silly or serious. Between the two of us, we probably had enough intellectual and street savvy to run a middle-sized university, but the butterscotch pudding of either seriousness or solemnity didn't choke off the flow. We did give some time to a Zen friend who was caught in a period of upheaval but we didn't miss a beat or reduce the focus when it came to a couple of Grade Q movies, "The Human Centipede" and "Nude Nuns with Big Guns."

Is it true, or is it only my own feckless supposition, that when left to their own devices, human beings are deadly serious in their minds? Chocolate, war, politics, love, freedom, anguish, physical aches and pains, religion, anchovies, automobiles, peace, jobs, vast philosophies, birth and death, blue shirts and red ... all of it comes across the individual screen as s-e-r-i-o-u-s ... a seriousness that can be as locked-down and prissy as a nun. "Get thee behind me, Satan!" Or, "Gimme some more of that!"

And perhaps that's what friends are for -- offering not just a respite from the seriousness within, but a positive change of heart ... from butterscotch to celery stalk: I may take myself quite seriously, but sometimes my seriousness is really, really boring and, more than that, palpably inadequate and inaccurate. Clearly the universe does not play favorites: Deep spiritual yearnings and "Nude Nuns with Big Guns" ... what kind of an idiot am I to make distinctions? And the answer is, a pretty big idiot: I do make distinctions and they are as weighty and freighted as warm butterscotch pudding. It may be as easy as falling out of bed to lighten the load when talking with a friend, but take away my friend and I revert to warm butterscotch pudding. Why should the imperatives of butterscotch pudding be any more compelling or convincing than the freshness of white celery? It's quite a habit.

And perhaps that's what friends are for -- to suggest that there is a better and more sensible and more crunchy reality, one not quite so dank and shuttered and prissy and static and 'profound.' And if that's what friends are for, the question arises ...

Who or what is not a friend?

Friendship is not something to rely on.

It is just the way things are.

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