0030 – The limitations of friendship

People and ducks at Hyde Park, November 2018

There’s a meme going around from “Into the spiderverse” where you’re not meant to interrupt something that’s happening because it’s a ‘canon event’ for that person. It is part of that person’s destiny to undergo a trial without interference. I feel that as a friend, I tend to meddle too much, to entangle myself in people’s destiny without being asked for. This has had good and bad outcomes.

What’s the difference between helicoptering and neglect? Where do you draw the line between being a good friend and a fair-weather one? How much are you mean to interfere? Is everyone accorded their own peace? When are interventions necessary?

My friend was engaged to someone everyone considered terrible for him. I met up with the best man and some of the other groomsmen and I asked them over a lot of wine why they didn’t say anything to the groom. “It’s gone too far”, they said. “We just have to catch him when he needs us”.

I found the same thing with a friend and one of her best friends who is now married to someone who abuses them verbally. How can you stand by? I ask my friend. She said that it was not her place to force a break up. She said that her friend knew the situation best and that when the time came, if it ever came she would be there to help. If she kept reminding her friend of her opinion every time they spoke, their relationship would break down and if the time finally came that she was needed there would be no open line of communication for the help and advice to be delivered.

In a cliché way, it could be that I’ve meddled too much as a way of acting out my agency on an easier setting instead of my own life. It is always hardest to take your own advice and it is always hardest to intervene in your own situation It’s always easier to point a finger that looks like a helping hand. Maybe I shouldn’t care so much.

There have been times where it’s worked out. I have helped people get jobs, move countries and even have kids. Some situations didn’t take much from me and others took a lot but all of them had really good outcomes that I’m proud of.

I confronted one of my best friends about a drinking problem once. He spat at me and told me that I needed to learn how to drink. I didn’t realize quite how drunk he was at the time. Some weeks passed and I dragged him out of a bar fight. We walked along the waterfront and he cried in my arms. His hand was shaking as he held his glasses. I made sure he got home. I don’t remember how I got back but it was a small town and my feet remembered the way.

He called me many months later. He was in a different country and he desperately needed money for medical bills. Without hesitation I sent him what I had. He never repayed me and never spoke to me again. Each of us has gone on our own lives and I’m not sure if that was a canon event for me or for him. Maybe it was a canon event for both of us.

It’s also possible to influence people just by existing in your best self. I didn’t expect my parents to work out with weights but four or so years of me going to the gym and LIGHTLY nagging them about the importance of building muscle for their later years, I see them using small dumbells and it really brings warmth to my heart. I forget that by simply existing we can help people. I see this clearly with my partner. The way she runs her home and takes care of herself. It’s simple but inspiring to me.

The very fact that this blog is a direct result of my inspirations: Visa’s million word project as well as the Hundred Rabbit game studio website. I love how they write and how they document their thoughts and actions. The more they do it, the more I want to do it.

It may be difficult to see the ones you love stumble but the most important thing is to be there for them while you take care of yourself. The friend that I lent money to. I never heard from him but I did hear from a friend of a friend that he’s doing well now. That he has a stable job and a good life. I’ll never get that money back, nor do I want it back but I know that it might have been a small stepping stone for him in that moment and that it told him that help was out there. More importantly, it reminded me of my place in the world. I have a tendency to think I am central to everything (first born syndrome) but his story reminds me that there was nothing more I could have done and that’s perfectly fine. I don’t have to be his Hero but I could be the tiniest helping hand along the way.

I think of all the people in my life who have helped me with their tiny helping hands. Maybe there is no big canon event but the combination of all the small things that add up together. I think of my parents and how much they set up my life. I think also of people that I’ve known only for a few hours but have affected me to this day. I think of all my friends who have stood by me and let me fail or let me try, at least. I think of all the gambles I made and everything I’ve lost and won. I think of the right words at the right times because the right words at the wrong times might as well be the wrong words.

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