Chronicles – July 2012

Friends
By
Steve Ramirez
“Can miles truly separate you from friends… If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?”
Richard Bach

Even as a boy I knew I was different from the rest. I was the natural leader of our little band of boys, and although they followed my presence through woodlands and farmer’s fields, I knew I would never really be one of them. Their inner lives were simple, as it should be…and I’m sure if I knew where they all are today I would find them in a simple cycle of work and play, the life of most, normal people. To them a rock was a rock and not a metaphor for life. They were not in love with words as I am and meanings were tossed around casually like stray bullets. Now, as an adult, I find that I remain quite separate from most people who surround me, ghost-like, bodies moving though time without purpose or direction. For me, words have meanings that are sacred. I do not toss them around like breadcrumbs to the pigeons. I have to come to grips with the fact that I am, odd…I mean what I say, truly.

So many words seem to be treated casually, even pornographically in how they are disregarded, disrespected, disconnected from the powerful implications that are contained within their DNA. People toss around the words: love, promise, honesty, integrity, honor, and friendship in a disposable manner. If we could truly unearth the meaning of sin that is locked within the tomb of its Aramaic symbols, I think this would fall within the meaning.

Clock time holds little real meaning. There is no past. There is no future. There is only now, and now dies the moment it is born…. so really? Still, in this moment I am holding onto the word: friend. I am looking at it from all angles and in all kinds of light, and in all the ways it is used today from the meaningless “e-friend” to the meaningful, “I love you, my dear Friend.” I of course have held this word with all its meanings and being a reluctant Facebook participant I am as  guilty as the next person of “friending” someone I do not really know, but all the while I do so understanding that in today’s world “friending” may end up being the equal to a chance meeting on a park bench. Was it really chance…or destiny? I guess it depends on the meeting and the park bench. Most people who I’d meet in the park will just be faceless, soulless, passersby who may or may not smile and chat with me. Still, I try to be courageous enough to be open to the one in a million who was drawn to that bench for some cosmic reason, as was I, and if you are both brave your lives are forever enriched by the words and meaning that are scattered over the cooing of the pigeons.

Another way I have come to realize that I am odd is that my heart is vast and I have no fear of caring. This has become a fearful world. We are afraid to be kind for fear of being hurt. My heart is covered in scar tissue but I refuse to be gutless. When I tell a real friend that I love them, I mean what I say… and it does not diminish any other love, or taint it, or empty my well. As the poet Hafiz once wrote, there are different wells within us. Some fill with each good rain, others are far, far too deep for that.” I am always surprised at the limited water tables within the wells of most people. Since they seem incapable of vastness, they hold it suspect. How sad for them. How sad for this world? In my day to day life, and in cyber space, it seems to me that true loving friendship has been evaporating at an alarming rate. Perhaps this is because we are becoming a selfish people. Perhaps it is because we are becoming cowards. I do not wish to be either, and would rather pass from this life unknown than make myself presentable for the masses.

One of the qualities that I love about these Texas hills where I live and write is that we are friendly in a casual sense, and hold friendship as something of value. The ability to be straightforward and to help your neighbor without any expectation of return on investment is a natural Texan inclination. I like this. It speaks to me and gives me a sense of being home every time we collectively show some simple kindness. In fact, simple kindness is not that simple. Loving friendship takes courage. It is extending your hand without knowing if another hand will grasp it…or will it be left hanging there, awkward and alone.

So, here is where my brief sojourn has taken me my “friends.” As Jesus said, my “Yes is Yes…and my No is No.” If I tell you that you are my dear friend and that I love you…it is the truth; I don’t have my hand in your pocket, I want nothing in return. I do not have to be physically around someone each day to see the poetic beauty within their soul. And, in an often dark and narrow world, shouldn’t we all have the courage to be vast? Life is choice. I choose courage, compassion, love, sacrifice, resilience, kindness, passion, purpose, poetry, and yes…true friendship. And, if I get hurt along the way…I will heal. My heart… is vast.



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