Friendship jewels: cut or hold on to them?

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I have always been afraid of losing friends. I lost a dear friend in recent months and now am on the verge of losing another. On both counts, a misunderstanding has occurred and then fueled greatly by egos. That is to say that the first loss could have been avoided if we hadn’t allowed our ego to come in between us so heavily. I have since learnt to put mine aside to give way to things that matter.  The second one however, having learnt a lesson from the last, can still be saved. But I can feel the fabric of our friendship tearing away as each day goes by. The glue that held us together melting away under every rise of the sun. I can feel us drifting away from each other and our hearts disintegrating.

It terrifies me, gives me sleepless nights and makes me obsess over what I might have done wrong. And if you try so hard to find faults anywhere, you will surely get them. I go through our interactions with said friends over and over in my head trying to figure out what I did wrong or what really happened. But most of the times, we never really do anything tragic to cause the loss of our friends. Sometimes we just grow apart, drift, drift, drift until you no longer talk or check on each other, its life.

I have always wondered whether it is possible for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another? We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone? Do we really know our friends and the motives behind their actions towards us?

There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature. Perhaps that is why I am so afraid of losing them because I invest so much emotion in them. But lately I have halted my desire and endeavors to keep my friends close to ask myself just one question; are they afraid of losing me as I am afraid of losing them? Sometimes I think I get obsessed by the desire to keep them close that I forget friendship is about sharing and contributing to each other’s’ growth and not just on party giving and the other one just taking. You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes

Friendship by my definition is built on two things-respect and trust. Both elements have to be there. And it has to be mutual. You can have respect for someone, but if you don’t have trust, the friendship will crumble.

Friendship in itself is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival. If there’s anything I’ve learned about friendship, it’s to hang in there, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, and don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. To quote Muhammad Ali; friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.

When we honestly ask ourselves which people in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have rather chosen to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. Life is an awful, ugly place to not have best of friends one can get.

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. It seems to me that the best relationships – the ones that last – are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship. You know, one day you look at the person and you see something more than you did the night before, like a switch has been flicked somewhere. And the person who was just a friend suddenly becomes the only person you can ever imagine yourself with.

I know you are wondering how I’ve just jumped ship from friendship to relationship. I’ll tell you this; it’s bullshit to think of friendship and romance as being different. They’re not. They’re just variations of the same love, variations of the same desire to be close. Let me explain; the beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them and it would be hypocritical on our part to call them friends. We love our friends just the way they are; crazy as they might be, with all their shortcomings, they are still our friends, right?

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship. When I say you are my friend or it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch; that deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive; courage, kindness, friendship, character; the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness. Friendship that knows no boundaries, love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war and justice that proves more powerful than greed.

This is how it works for me. I love the people in my life, and I do for my friends whatever they need me to do for them, again and again, as many times as is necessary. For example, in the case of the friend I tell you I feel like I’m about to lose, she seems to always forgets who she is and how much she is loved. But on the latter part, it could be partly blamed on me because I haven’t expressly told her how much I do. So, what I will be doing for her as her friend henceforth, is to be reminding her who she is and tell her how much I love her. That is, if we survive this storm. And this won’t be and isn’t any kind of burden for me, because I love who she is very much. Every time I’ll be reminding her, I’ll get to remember with her, which will be my pleasure.

There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature. And this one is just exceptional. She loves to read, she loves literature and her taste is absolutely impeccable. If I had a flower for every time I thought of her I could walk through my garden forever.

Sometimes I want to say to her, “I love you, but…” Yet the “but” takes away the ‘I love you’. In love there are no ‘buts’ or ‘ifs’ or ‘when’. It’s just there, and always. No beginning, no end. It’s the condition-less state of the heart. Not a feeling that comes and goes at the whim of the emotions. It is there in our heart, a part of our heart eventually grafting itself into each limb and cell of our bodies. Love changes our brain, the way we move and talk. Love lives in our spirit and graces us with its presence each day, until death.

To say “I love you, but….” is to say, “I do not love you at all”. So, I will say this to her now and here, in front of everyone unafraid and silently hoping she will read this soon: I love you, with no beginning, no end. I love you as you have become an extra necessary organ in my body. I love you as only a boy could love a girl, without fear without expectations. Wanting nothing in return, except that you allow me to keep you here in my heart, that I may always know your strength, your eyes, your smile and your spirit that gave me freedom and let me fly.

Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So, you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live becomes drab and empty for their departure.

You can go through life and make new friends every year – every month practically – but there will never be any substitute for those friendships of childhood that survive into adult years. Those are the ones in which we are bound to one another with hoops of steel. Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And there is also a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over. These childhood friends know exactly how to do that.

Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family. I have actually come to believe that the capacity for friendship is God’s way of apologizing for our families. A good friend is a connection to life – a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world. A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked. True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it be lost.

A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself. A friend is a person with whom you may be sincere. Before him you may think aloud.  You feel that you have arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal, that you may drop even those undermost garments of dissimulation, courtesy, and second thought, which men never put off, and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness with which one chemical atom meets another.

Friendship is the best thing that comes to life. Friends will always be there for you, don’t worry about the fakes, worry about the people who had your back from the start and never treated you wrong always. Remember they are your real friends and don’t never take them for granted because one day you are going to lose a good friend by the way your actions are. When you see a good friend stick to that person.

In friendship, we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting – any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, speaking from a Christian perspective, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies must have been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.

It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being. One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often, secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people. We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so, in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.

I don’t suppose you have many friends. Neither do I. I don’t trust people who say they have a lot of friends. It’s a sure sign that they don’t really know anyone. Be slow to fall into friendship, but when you are in, continue firm and constant. Close friends are truly life’s treasures. Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves. With gentle honesty, they are there to guide and support us, to share our laughter and our tears. Their presence reminds us that we are never really alone.

When you have a good friend that really cares for you and tries to stick in there with you, sometimes you treat them like nothing. Learn to be a good friend because one day you’re going to look up and say I lost a good friend. Learn to be respectful to your friends, don’t just start arguments with them and don’t tell them the reason, always remember your friends will be there quicker than your family. Learn to remember you’ve got great friends, don’t forget that and they will always care for you no matter what. Always remember to smile and look up at what you got in life.

And I have one last hope for you, which is something I’ve had since I was 21. That the friends with whom you sat with on your graduation day or the friends you have now be your friends for life. They be your children’s godparents, the people you’ll be able to turn to in times of trouble, friends who will be kind enough not to sue you when you’ve used their names for mortgage loans. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us decided to run for President or MCA.

They say a good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends. This is why I write this for all the friends I’ve met along the way. You have individually and collectively changed and shaped my life, view of things, my perspective of people and perspective of life in ways you will possibly never imagine. For this, I appreciate and celebrate you. May you live long lives and form friendships stronger and more interesting than the ones you’ve had before.

This is for you:

Mzangila Snr and all the readers out there.

The childhood friends I grew up together with and have remained in touch to date; Hillary, Kesh, Jemo, Augustine(Neto), Lumbasho, Kiarie, The dictator himuselfu Wycliffe Ouma (the modern day Iddi Amin) and Lodiaka.

Those I met in Anestar High school; Kuria, Salaa, Ian Chasimba (the second fastest man I have ever met) the first of his name King Mufasa Ongubo mwenyewe, and all the crazy people in that 4south class, Anyang’ Akol, Jemo Gitata, Njeri James Mcallister, Francis Njihia Mzalendo aka the missile man, Amos Kabuti van Flexxy (Aka Lil Tunechi), Director Emmilian Lerinto, Nathaniel Ngugi, Mustapha, James Mwangi (the most quiet deskmate anyone would ever have), Tallman Kamutu, Stevo ‘Suspect’ Kamanda, Peter Njoroge (Msanii), Sospeter Ngugi, Joe ‘Cheqs’, Brian Ochieng’ (Ochi), the late Sammy Gatua- may his soul rest in peace, Edwin Anasi and the rest of my beloved 4North class of 2011, John ‘Mejja’ Ngai, Kihiko (this guy used to sleep buana!), Lewis Lahti, Harrison Ngugi and your Naxerian crew and the rest whose names I might have forgotten. While I may have lost touch with some of you, I continue to tell your stories and our adventures in that school.

My campus family, the inner circle, my brothers from other mothers with whom we created a bond stronger than anything I had ever experienced before then; Pablo, Kyle, Sam and Suleiman; the ladies; Emma, Esther, Makena, Linda, Rhoda and Julie. The rest of the family; Kevo, Odera, Ron, Njoro and Umaga. The Inferno family; Polycarp Nyanza, Isaiah ‘Cahill’ Baraza, Albert Simba, Victor Kagawa, Jared ‘Messi’ Nyairo, Freddy Odhiambo, Rasto Kabakah (melanin), Thuita ‘Curtois’ Wambua aka Jubilee, Josephat-‘Coaches’ and the rest of the squad, we left a legacy. Not forgetting fellow philosophers from our small political science class; Ras Muigai Chizinksi, Cate Mutuku, Collins Mbadi, Lilian, Cate Mumbi, Lucia, Martha, Newton and of course Pablo and Suleiman again, lets us always keep our minds sharp.

The other friends I have made since I stepped out of that campus gate; Rose, Rachel, Gladys, Kathy, Faith, Steve (investor), little brother Brian aka Flash (the fastest man I’ve ever met) and Tasha (a philosopher in the making). Every story I write has a bearing on the lives of these people.

All those I’ve not mentioned but we have crossed paths. We still have a lot of space on this blog and time ahead of us to create and share more memories.

Let’s raise our glasses to more years of life, of good health and of better stronger friendships.

Yours truly,


Cutting people out of your life is easy, keeping them in is hard.

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About The Philosopher King

Writer, philosopher, painter and a student of life and politics. Follow on Twitter @cj_njoroge. Instagram @cj_njoroge

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