January 30th, 2013.
“I paid the last time, this time YOU pay!!!” If I had a Dirham for every time I got into an argument like in the title with my friends, I’d be paying my EMI’s a lot faster than I am currently. We all have friends like this, and they are the ones we keep the closest. This week started with the celebration of Friendship Day and for many this was an opportunity to bombard the social networking world with cheesy ‘Facebook Forwards’ about friendship. For me however, while I was on my radio show reading the messages people were sending in for their friends I realized how important friends and friendships really are in our lives.
For many years I have extracted my personal life philosophy from a song by Baz Luhrmann called, “Everybody’s Free (To wear Sunscreen).” Yes, popular culture influences me more than Jean Jacques Rousseau and his band of philosophical men. The words of the song go something like this, “Understand that friends come and go but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.”
Think about it. There is wisdom there. We all have friends who have come and gone. Most of them these days however don’t go anywhere with the advent of Facebook…they just linger on your friends’ list and do absolutely nothing. But we all have friends who are precious to us, the ones we hold on to. Those who we know will help us in any situation we find ourselves in. They are the ones who we know will even help us hide a body, if it ever comes to it. While that is a great litmus test to figure out who your real friends are, I would really not recommend it. I want to look at the second line I quoted from the song as well because I feel that in it lies the key. “Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.”
Life moves on, we move on. We work and our work takes use to different corners of the city, country or the world. Today we have all the tools at our disposal to bridge geography even when 10000 miles separates us, but the lifestyle part is the one that is challenging for the best of us. Does your lifestyle give you enough time with your friends? Do you hang with them? Do you take the time to talk with them? Distance is not our concern these days, time is.
Recently a study was conducted at a hospice with some of the inmates who were all suffering from terminal illnesses. They were asked about their biggest regrets in life. While you would have thought people wished they took up adventure sports or bungee jumped off a bridge in New Zealand, the ones that made it to the top five were:-
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
I draw your attention to the 4th regret. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.” However when you read the rest of them you realize that if you have No.4 sorted, it could have perhaps helped nullify the other 4 regrets. Think about it, if you were in touch with your friends, you would hang out with them more often, even gone on vacations together and done stuff over the weekends and you would have ended up not working as hard as you currently do. Friends often give us the courage to stand up for what we believe in and in sharing happiness with us, they enable us to be happier. With friends you don’t need to be someone you are not and that is perhaps the biggest blessing of having them around. So, I ask you again, are you in touch with your friends or are you surrounded by a bunch of no good socialites whose aim in life is to simply have their photo clicked and published in a magazine?
I picked up the phone recently and had a nice long chat with some of my oldest friends. During the course of our conversation we realized that we had been friends for close to 20 years. Twenty years is a long time. We have had our ups and downs. We have fought physically and verbally but today our friendship is stronger than it has ever been before. The most awesome thing I love about friends is that they know your greatest strengths and your greatest weaknesses. What’s even more amazing is that your greatest weakness is still the butt of their funniest jokes, your biggest embarrassment it still their biggest laugh and your biggest failure is still the basis of your annoying nickname but your biggest fear is not having them in your life.
A few years ago, the Bollywood singer KK sang a song for the film Rockford. This is perhaps one of the best songs about friendship since Yeh Dosti. My favorite lines in the song go something like this :-
Teri har ek burai pedante vo dostGhum ki ho dhup to saaya banetera vo dostNache bhi vo teri khushi may…
These are just the most amazing lines to describe those close friends of yours who I referred to as earlier those who would help you hide a body. In case you don’t understand the lines of the song, this is what they mean, “Your friend is the one who scolds you for your every mistake… when sadness in your life shines like the sun, your friend is the shade… And it is your friend who even dances in your happiness.”
That’s what friends are. They make every moment in life worth it. Hanging with them just makes you a happier person. Sometimes you need them more and sometimes it’s the other way around. However no one keeps a record because that’s just the way friends are.
I’d love to say, “Forward this blog to 20 people or you will become a big fat couch potato or some rubbish like that…” Instead I am going to keep this simple…if you were thinking about a friend while you were reading this blog, perhaps it’s time to call them and say, “Hi