Expect the Unexpected
Love of Country
On Great Men and Base Men
Dreams and Daydreams
As you grow older...
Everybody needs friends, even the wisest and strongest among us. There is something inside us that longs every now and then to speak out, to share our inmost thoughts in the hope of finding resonances in others’ souls – we are so desperately lonely deep inside, and all of us, even the most superficial and thoughtless, sense that loneliness sometimes, and are terrified and crushed by that burden. We yearn to spread around our joys as well as sorrows, to laugh and cry and make delightful things and be quiet together with others like ourselves, to find reassuring and comforting shelter, even if momentarily and often chimerically, as we fight to sail through the raging storm across the ocean of life towards some dim, remote, uncharted boundary. That is why, though we quarrel and fight so much, and often hurt one another so much, we cannot bear to be entirely solitary for long - even the most shy and grumpy and abrasive among us. Indeed, we all know instinctively that friends, and the experimentation and exploration and adventure involved in making friends, help us to grow both emotionally and intellectually, to find out who we ourselves are, and what we are meant for; that is why we start trying to make friends right from childhood, that is why the best thing that parents can be is good friends, that is why friends both delight and hurt us so much all through our youths.
As we grow older, and begin to sense that we won’t be able to cling to the native hearth for much longer, that sense of loneliness and hunger for renewed belonging becomes acute, the urge to find a ‘special’ friend grows intense, and thus begin so many serious and half-serious and silly and often unfortunate romantic dalliances that colour our lives and etch them with pain. Sometimes they lead to long, even lifelong friendships which we marvel at as ‘good marriages’. Even if marriages through love are feared and frowned upon, you will see how traditional families get very eager and excited about pairing off their young with others from ‘suitable’ families as soon as they attain a certain age (in fact, the demands become insistent and oppressive, more so for women, but also to a considerable extent for men)....
But I have gone too far ahead of the story; let me retrace a few steps. What do we look for in a friend? Do we all look for the same thing really? Are all friends to be treated alike? Do we conduct ourselves such that we deserve good friends? Why do some people have such awful experiences with friends that they become man- or woman-haters forever?...