He told me he replied, “That is why I am not in Facebook. I would like to keep in touch with you.”
His response intrigued me, and made think.
In Sanskrit there are four words for a friend and a charming couplet that defines how each word highlights a key aspect of friendship:
- One whose absence you feel
- One with whom you have chemistry
- One with whom you like to be
- One with whom your heart beats.
Think of that for a moment.
Whose absence do you feel? A woman, whose husband passed away just two years ago after twenty years of marriage, tells me she rarely thinks of him. I may have looked a little astonished, for she added, “There are too many things to do, too many things to think about.” We all have things to do and things to think about, too many apparently to waste time feeling the absence of people who mattered in our lives. Think of the pageant of friends who passed through your life, were even close to you in school or college, in work or club, and have now faded into oblivion.
Did you feel you had chemistry in your relationship with someone? Surely your life is not the arid desert where you never struck a chord with anyone you met? Then why is the person gone for ever, lost in the dreary fog of the past? We have the technical means today of overcoming space and time, so I can’t say any more, “He went to work in another country” or “She married and moved.” If we lost a link, it is because we dropped the thread. We have to wonder whether we were really friends.
Friends do turn up in our lives. They weren’t perfect to be sure; nor are we. Subhas Roy, a special friend, once said, “The test of a friendship is the angularities we are prepared to overlook for its sake.” Maybe those angularities are what makes the friendship special and unique.
You have probably met someone charming and you would like to be with that person. For how long? Could you endure his or her proximity for ten or twenty years? Could you live with the person in the same apartment? Would you like the person even in the next apartment for a couple of years? As for the beating heart, many have felt it beat fast and furious for a while and then go dead, as Lord Keynes foretold, in the long run of three weeks.
So, while Mark Zuckerberg talks of linking the world, many wonder if this kind of linking can satisfy our longing for friends. This is what my Bulgarian friend was talking about: friending is an ersatz type of friendship that can keep you busy and give you an ephemeral sense of bonding with a billion, but leave you bereft of the warmth of personal linking. The kind of linking that lets you explore with another your deepest concerns. Your loves and hates lie far deeper.
So, my friend, sit down next to me and have a glass of Pinio Grigio. I wouldn’t mind at all if you prefer a Merlot – or even a glass of milk.