Friends and the Art of Living

We mostly meet people through other people. I can’t claim any of my good friends as an independent product of my cleverness. It does not matter who introduce me to a person, what is important is the ability to see, really see a new person when we meet them. The art of living and the creation of a quality life is inextricably linked to our ability to choose friends. Some acquaintances are nice and good to keep in our lives, but at arms length. Other folk are better stayed away from or even deliberately cut out of our lives. Yet the crucial one is to figure out the five or six people you will allow close to you. It is a crucial decision, firstly because you just have so much time and every hour you give to one person is an hour denied to numerous others. Secondly, we become like our friends in that their thinking and values rub off on us. If you want to know yourself, look at your closest friends. A bit of crazy diversity here and there might be in place, but be sure to spend the bulk of your time with friends that are smart, authentic, inspiring and good.

If i evaluate my own life, I have hundreds of people I could consider friends and I don’t mean Facebook friends. So who do I give my time to? Its tricky. Sometimes life makes us grow apart and awesome people just drift away due to various reasons. I can think of school, university and church friends that fall in this category and there is no real reason for being disconnected, other than drifting apart through diverse lifestyles. I also have about five people in my life that I don’t see because of conflict, people I don’t want to talk to because I view them as either stupid or harmful (or they might be ex’s). I often think of them, feel bad, but I don’t have any desire to patch things up. Some friends are fun to hang out with, they make me feel good on a superficial level. But my best friends are those that motivate and inspire me to be a better person, not by talking but by who they are and how they live. Some people do not even see a great friend or person if they stand right in front of them! If you search for cool, you won’t find good.

I am very lucky in that I meet hundreds of nice and good people. Yet, my true fortune lies in the grace that I had, that I, as a naughty, funny kid, managed to meet (and became friends with) incredible human beings. I wont mention them, yet I think of at least 20 awesome people I am allowed to call friends and about five of them form part of my inner-circle.

We all need something from each other. We all stick to a friend because of some selfish reason. There are also unselfish reasons and moments, but don’t let that blind you to your unspoken needs! We get something valuable from a person or we move on. The more incomplete you are as a person, the more you will choose silly friends that plug the wrong holes. I need friends that help me to see beauty, that help me to live selflessly, that makes me smarter, that teach me how to care, that recognise that I am special, that show me what it means to be a human. There is nothing as precious as a human who reveals humanity.

Some people seek party animals as friends, I seek fully aware humans. To each his/her own I guess.

At primary school on a prefect camp, Johan Niemand said something I never forgot: “we can do anything we want, as long as we are happy to live with the consequences” – pretty smart for a 12-year old.

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