Rule No. 1: The Islander (me) is always confused. Rule No. 2: Should she not be confused, Rule No. 1 applies automatically.
One of my closest friends once told me that I "give very tough exams." While most of my students would agree with her, she wasn't talking about my academic tests, she was talking about friendship tests. According to her, I tend to expect so much out of my friends that it becomes very likely they will fail the test. She warned me that day that even she is likely to fail that test one day.
The problem is, as hard as I may flip through situations, I honestly don't think my (friendship) exams are hard. Besides, the truth is, unlike my academic exams, I don't get to write my friendship exams, life writes them for me and my friends.
Friendship is a tough issue. It's an issue that's very close to my heart, one that sometimes seems to flow somewhat logically, but most times seems, to me, very hard to understand or deal with. Maybe it's because I do things naturally with and/or for my friends, I don't think much of it. But let me tell you that over the years, I've consciously made an effort to expect the minimum out of friends, because I understand and realize that they have other lives going on, and other people to take care of.
And so whenever I go through one of life's hardships, and God knows (and so do my friends) I've been through a few, one of my worst fears is how the friends game will play out, how difficult will the exam be, and who will pass, and what the questions will be.
The occasion for this very friendly, confusing post is the very tough episode I had to deal with (and I'm still dealing with) these past six weeks or so. So I decided to write, tell you my vision of friendship, and ask for feedback. Chances are, the more distant you are from me (that is, if you're not a close friend), the better your judgment will be. But I'll take any and all feedback with open arms, open heart, and open mind.
See, I tend to view friendship as a mountain, and to simplify things, I'll put steps on it. Both partners (any two people involved in a friendship) go hand-in-hand up together or down together. So on my mountain, for example, I'm standing on step 1 or 2 with some people that I just met, on step 4 or 5 with many people, on step 7 or 8 with quite a few people, and on step 9 or 10 with these rare few, the brave ones who can take me as I am, or the crazy ones who enjoy my craziness, people who pair with me and bear with me in friendship so we both (in twos) make it to the top. Remember, it's a mountain after all, so climbing up is not easy.
Rolling down a mountain, however, as my YouTube and Facebook videos will tell you, is easy. And while that's fun if you're on a beautiful Siwa mountain, it's very unfortunate in the case of the friendship mountain.
My point is, it takes effort to hold on so you can climb, and it takes effort to hold on so you don't roll down. Both parties have to exert that effort.
And hardships are like a mudslide coming down that mountain, usually aimed at one of the two friends at a time. If the stable friend is not grabbing the troubled friend real hard, if the troubled friend can't hold on to the stable friend, they both roll down with the mudslide, so that if and when the hardship is over, they find themselves now at step 6 or 5 rather than step 9 or 10.
And that's a big loss. To both parties and to the mountain.
So far so good, you might say, but the problem again are in the exam questions. Are they fi mostawa el taleb el 3adi? Well, you be the judge.
I can't tell you what the questions are in my particular case because this is a pretty open post (yes, blogs and Facebook are NOT private:), but I'll leave you to think about your own friendship mountain and where you stand with your own friends. Have you called your best friends recently? Do you know what's happening in their lives? Are you sure they're ok? If you happen to know they're not ok, have you done your part to stand by them? If you just found out when you called them, what can you now do to be a good friend? I'm asking you to spend a few minutes to answer these questions, because the result(s) will be better friendships for all.
I have to tell you before I end this blog, that on a happy note, hardships and mudslides have another side to them. That side is people on the friendship mountain who manage to grab you by the hand and climb up against the wind and in the darkest hours of the mudslide. People who you thought were on step 4 or 3 or even 2, who you didn't expect to even hear of, but who are suddenly there every step of the way, who call you endlessly or maybe even one time, or who just make sure you know they are there. And that is sometimes more than enough!
To these people, the heroes of my mudslide, thank you (and thank God I'm still standing:). Thank you for everything. You made the dark hours a little brighter, and that was very much needed. To those others, thank you for making me re-think and re-evaluate, and thank you for taking the time to read this and think about the friendships in your lives. I will do the same, and I apologize in advance to any of my friends who might have ever felt neglected by me. I promise to do better and try harder. I hope we all learn our lessons (myself included) and become better friends.