The Art of Pretense: Good Friends Are Hard to Find
“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them” Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island
I have been taught over and over again -- through books and lectures, commercials and magazines, trials and errors -- that I need to be perceived as something I am not and will never be. And so has everyone else. I am quite sure most have an incomplete picture of who I really am; and I assume as much is true of other people. In the end, I guess I fear that no one is really looking for friends – only fans. Perhaps this is why many of my friendships are old; they were forged in the years before I learned the art of pretense.
I resonate with Shakespeare who said, “words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find”. Faithfulness is a luxury most difficult to come by. It is rarely taught. And those who seek it eventually come to an impasse with vulnerability. Those who refuse to embrace that path will rarely ever find it. I’ve struggled to pursue that path at times.
In the slew of things we exchange as social currency, loyalty is a forgotten coin. Still, few things are as valuable as knowing that your friends have your back even when everyone else runs away. I never wanted a friend I couldn’t trust.
“A friend to everyone is a friend to no one” -Aristotle
Friends are willing to accept each other for who they really are. They care enough about each other to excavate actions in pursuit of good intentions. They are able to share their biggest dreams and aspirations without the fear of judgment should they fail to see them through.Friendships are environments where pretense is checked at the door in honor of candor and authenticity. They are spaces where motives are trusted, confidences are shared, and forgiveness is extended. Friends always watch out for each other and refuse to engage in any conversation that degrades the other. They disagree, debate, dialogue, and disapprove – but can never be accused of deceit. Loyalty is the soil healthy friendships are grown in; and no other soil – common interests, shared insights, or mutual aspirations – can produce the same fruit.
I want friendships like that. I want to be that kind of friend.