December 23, 2007

Digging for friends

Since this summer, I've lamented not getting into Incubus several years ago when I was first introduced to them. I feel like I've missed out on following the band's growth and on many, many opportunities to experience the fantastic energy of their live performances. When I stop to think about it, though, I realize that the time just wasn't right back then. I'm not sure that I would have been open then to what this band has to offer. I'm at a point now that their music speaks to me in very meaningful ways. One particular song, Dig, struck me right away when I heard it for the first time a couple of months ago. I have to say that a part of me is a bit embarassed to admit how much I love this song. Dig's an exceptionally pretty tune, bordering on power-ballad, and jaded, cynical ears might even consider it to be cheesy and cornball. The lyrics, though, are really wonderfully self-aware and quite touching, and have given me much food for thought.

At this point, I imagine some of you may be rolling your eyes. "Is she just gonna babble about that Brandon Boyd guy again?" Well... yes. But with a purpose that I hope you'll appreciate by the time this already rambling mess is done. You see, Dig is about friendship, which is something I've thought about frequently since getting into the whole MySpace thing, with its collecting of virtual "friends" who can be anything from family members to 'net trolls to aspiring or established musicians to that mysterious entity named "Tom". It's made me wonder just what constitutes a friend, and what's involved in both being and having one.

The friendships I've had over the years, both real-life and virtual, have been like rollercoasters on which I've ridden through intense highs and lows with one or a couple of people for a few years, and then the ride has ended abruptly for some reason and we've parted ways. It's either been an argument, a disappointment, or just that vague feeling of growing apart. I've described in previous blogs (here, and again here) how I ended my last batch of friendships because I felt I was no longer getting anything from them. I have to wonder, though, if much of the problem hasn't really been with me and the level of my expectations. Have I expected loyalty and a level of understanding that's unrealistic for most people to deliver?

Michel de Montaigne, in his essay "Of Friendship", described what seems to be the rarified pinnacle of relationships:

"...a friendship, which we afterwards improved and maintained, so long as God was pleased to continue us together, so perfect, inviolate, and entire, that certainly the like is hardly to be found in story, and amongst men of this age, there is no sign nor trace of any such thing in use; so much concurrence is required to the building of such a one, that 'tis much, if fortune bring it but once to pass in three ages."

Wow. How many of us have had buddies like that? Apparently, the guys in Incubus come close. Three of the five have known each other since middle-school and have been making music together, not to mention traveling around on a tour bus together, for 15 years. Watching them together in interviews and in parts of their recent dvd, Look Alive, it's obvious that these guys have a strong rapport and genuinely enjoy each other's company. I find myself feeling envious of them, that they seem to have such strong ties based on shared history, laughter, creative stimulation, and support. There's been some severing of ties, specifically the controversial firing a few years ago of one band member who was also a high school buddy, but the overall solidity of their relationships is apparently what inspired Dig:

We all have a weakness
But some of ours are easier to identify.
Look me in the eye
& ask for forgiveness;
We'll make a pact to never speak that word again.
Yes, you are my friend.
We all have something that digs at us,
at least we dig each other.
So when weakness turns my ego up
I know you'll count on the me from yesterday.

If I turn into another,
dig me up from under what is covering
the better part of me.
Sing this song,
Remind me that we'll always have each other
when everything else is gone.

We all have a sickness
that cleverly attaches & multiplies
No matter how we try.
We all have someone that digs at us,
at least we dig each other.
So when sickness turns my ego up
I know you'll act as a clever medicine.

If I turn into another
dig me up from under what is covering
The better part of me.
Sing this song!
Remind me that we'll always have each other
when everything else is gone.

Up to this point in my life, I didn't feel that I had experienced anything like that with anyone I'd known. In the past, I often went out of my way to help friends in need, giving of my time, even my car and money. And I've always made a point of trying to learn about the interests of people I consider friends, as much to develop common bonds between us as for my own curiosity. And, so often, it seemed those things weren't appreciated and reciprocated. In those instances, I invariably felt slighted.

Lately, though, I find myself wondering what's changed. In hindsight, I think I've realized that what I felt I wasn't getting in past friendships was attention, and comfort and support when I needed them. I'm learning now that I don't have to have the attention, I can sit back and let others take the spotlight, and yet know that I still have something to offer. And I've been on my own long enough to feel confident that I can weather pretty much any emotional crisis without external support. What I do need, though, is communication, people with whom to share ideas, discuss experiences, and learn from.

I've already written (in one of those blogs linked above) about the various places around the 'net that have led me to begin establishing quite a few new relationships that seem to be burgeoning into friendship. I'm finding that what I enjoy most from these new relationships is the stimulus-- my cycling/kayaking buddies push me physically; various of my MySpace "friends" and music forum acquaintances have exposed me to new literary paths or inspired my creativity; and with some of these folks, I'm exploring new spiritual ground and being challenged to think about my future. But there's also been much of what I felt I didn't have in past friendships-- With everything I've been through lately with my cat's illness and death, I'm having trouble keeping up with and responding to all the thoughtful messages of comfort I've received, and it's left me a bit astounded. (And grateful. Thank you all very much.)

So where have all these people come from? What's behind all these sudden synchronous connections? Is it just chance that I've found internet sites frequented by like-minded folks? Or is there something in me that's shifted and allowed me to reach out? Or all of the above? As these friendships develop, will I allow expectation to take a backseat and just be open to whatever I can learn about and from these various people? My feeling is that I need to avoid expecting a certain level of support or loyalty, and instead hope for more of the stimulus that inspires me to be a finer person. In other words, I think I'm ready to aim for Brandon's ideal of friendship over Montaigne's: If I turn into another, dig me up from under what is covering the better part of me...

1 comment:

Gustav said...


Have a great 2008 and cats rule!