Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday Madness [Friendship]

¡Hola! Everybody,
Yeah, it's Monday, but I was born on a Monday, so it can't be ALL bad!

I had this mind-blowing post in the works today, but I had something personal and very important to me come up and I wanted very much to address it.

I’ve been running around like a lunatic for the past week or so and it happens that I’m lashing out at those closest to me, which doesn’t really work well for my relationships and puts me in a bad light. The bad part is picking up the mess after.

Never a dull moment!

Anyway, you’re stuck with the following, written a couple of years ago...

* * *

"Friendship and community are, first of all, inner qualities."
-- Henri J. M. Nouwen

Real friendship begins as an inner quality or attitude before it can be expressed outwardly. As a young man, I wasn’t careful about who I chose as companions because I always thought I was too fiercely independent to be affected by others. Not true... Oh yeah, I was independent enough, but the power of the group should never be underestimated, my friends.

My father used to tell me “If you hang around the barbershop long enough, you will eventually get a haircut.” I didn’t fully understand what he meant at the time, but he was expressing an old truth about “birds of a feather... ” For Puerto Ricans it’s “Dirme con quien anda, y te dire quien tu eres... ”

As a young teen at 14, I sought friendship and popularity as a way of validating myself because I felt small inside. My response was to create a persona I thought people would like: humorous, crazy, charismatic, outrageous, fashionable. It worked! During high school and after, I was one of the “popular” kids, becoming part of the “in crowd” setting trends, and defining an experience. To this day, I still get people I don’t recognize coming up to me as if I know them.

But this all came at the price of losing my true self. Moreover, staying popular was work -- there are rules, you know. Eventually, I would break all those rules, but by then I was too popular to escape the popularity. Breaking the rules became part of my mystique -- the basis for even more popularity!

LOL!!! Ahhhh... to be young...

Today I realize how fortunate I am because I can count many, many true friends. People who have been there for me through the years in good times and bad, who tell me what I need to hear rather than what I want to hear, and who accept me as I am -- a deeply flawed but loving man. These are people who help me be me, and not just the “celebrity” Eddie who is fun to be with, and who does and says outrageous things, but also the introspective -- dare I say even shy(?!?!) -- Eddie who cares deeply about the world.

Truth be told, I like to say I’m a “people person” but I’m really not. I’ll never forget the day my mother turned to me while we were watching the Jack Nicholson movie, As Good as it Gets, and said, “That’s you!!!” -- referring to the Jack Nicholson character. Not the obsessive/ compulsive part about the germs, but the character’s penchant for saying and doing things everyone else is only thinking. LMAO! I could be mean at times. Today, I like myself a lot better than I used to, but there is a dark side lurking in here somewhere.

But to get back to my point: it is through relationships and community that we create and recreate ourselves. If we can create a space, both psychological and “real,” in which we can accept ourselves in a community or web of relationships that will accept us also, anything is possible. Ever notice how sticking to an exercise program is easier if you have a partner? Imagine building a community like that -- where the participants involved encourage you to be the “best person you can be” on a daily basis and accept you when you fall short (and you will). Some people are quicker to latch on to the negative and create a Jerry Springer-like atmosphere. These very same people are the first to point out the pathetic quality of such an atmosphere, but the true irony is they are the perpetrators. They define themselves in terms of negativity. It’s all they know.

I am fortunate, I belong to a group of men and women who love me for me and who encourage me to realize who I am. The thing is that we can all do that, every moment of the day. Whether you are stuck in a traffic jam or walking down the street, this kind of life exists only as a possibility until you grab the opportunity by the throat and decide to be part of this insane world.

True friendship should exist as a mutual feeling of admiration, unconditional love, and a desire for fellowship. It should exist without demand. Sure, there are times some of my friends “fail” me in my expectations of them, but they’re human too -- they are bound to disappointment me! LOL Shit, I sure ain’t no walk in the park.

The important thing is whether we can love each other unconditionally and without malice. Maybe one more aspect about friendship is to accept another’s friendship without trying to change him or her. that’s always an obstacle because sometimes our feelings make us believe we want one thing over another...



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