0596 – cherish your friends

As at 26 year old, it’s interesting to look back on my relationships with other people when I was younger, and to think about what friendship meant then, and what it means now, and how my concept of it has changed over the years. It’s also interesting to juxtapose that against what I see and witness around me. I was reading something on Meaningness about a phenomenon where young people get into little cliques or groups that become very important to their identity. And I definitely experienced that, even though I was never very good at it. I don’t remember very much about my earliest friendships– a lot of it is memory which might have been modified over years of reimagining and recreation. I don’t remember very much about the friends I must’ve had in kindergarten, but I must have had some. I vaguely recall another indian boy named Dayalan, but I have no idea where he is now or what he’s up to. I wonder if he remembers me, or thinks of me. I remember there was a chinese boy too, I can’t remember his name, but I went to his house once. I borrowed pencils from somebody. I can’t remember.

And then we went to primary school, and I have a few memories of the kids I mingled with then. I vaguely remember an adventure we had to the back of the school garden. I remember going for touch typing lessons in the school’s computer club. I remember rolling coins across a passageway during recess, I remember running to the canteen to play Galaga on the computers that were there. I remember being terrified of getting into trouble after losing a workbook. I remember playing on the monkey bars after school. I remember my older buddy (I was 7, he was 9) showing me how to slide down a railing, which I thought was cool. I remember getting mistakenly scolded by a teacher for someone else’s shoddy work. I remember being scolded as a group for being too noisy, and standing in the sun far too long one day because our teacher hadn’t showed up after recess or something like that. I remember there were two bells at the end of recess – the first was a signal to stop where you were, and the second was to head to the assembly area. And some of us had great fun “stopping” in weird freeze frames. I remember going to a friend’s house to play computer games – that’s where I discovered Metal Slug and Red Alert. I remember making a new group of friends later on when we changed school again. I had a friend I’d meet once a year or so and we’d go to play video games together at the arcade at Tampines. And once I went to his house and we played Smackdown for a while. All these memories now seem so elusive. I remember playing Diablo 2 at a couple of friends’ houses. I actually took a Barbarian all the way to completion at one friend’s house. I wonder why we did that. I wonder why he encouraged me to do that. And his parents seemed to be quite okay with it. I try to put myself in the parents’ shoes now… I guess it’s nice for them to see a child having a social life of sorts. I invited friends to my place too to play video games – usually metal slug. Sometimes we’d watch TV. There is something nice, isn’t there, about kids exploring? Learning about themselves through the eyes of others.

And what’s amazing I think is realizing that all of us have different contexts, different realities. Of course, just by being in the same country, same city, we’re going to have a lot of things in common. Shared contexts. But there are also things that are very different. And looking back, it was so interesting to visit the homes of others. Actually, visiting another person’s home is always an interesting, trippy experience. To realize that the common spaces you inhabit aren’t all of what make that person who they are. Everybody has their own unique identity, personality, configuration, and they’re born into different circumstances, inhabit different spaces, experience different feedback loops, and effectively become very different beings, different patterns in spacetime that dance around one another. Sometimes we collide into one another in ways that could be described as damaging – we experience pain and anger and frustration and suffering – but all of that, in some sense, when you zoom out – can often be seen as a way of us becoming ourselves, of our patterns getting more interesting, more self-aware, and so on.

The cue I used to start this vomit was “losing friends”, and I think I wanted to reflect about the people who are no longer in my life, or who have closed themselves off to me because of my failures, weaknesses, incompetence, ignorance, ugliness. Or sometimes it’s just circumstances; sometimes the winds and tides bring ships to different seas and that’s just the way we go. Nobody has the right to demand that others remain around them – everybody should go wherever is right for them, according to what they think and feel is best. And of course there’s a process there, and people make mistakes and so on… but the point is … it’s all okay, as long as we’re learning and growing and becoming. I do have many fond memories that I am grateful for – perhaps I’m not grateful enough. Maybe I’m not yet old enough to spend too much time reflecting and reminiscing. But I’ve had some good times.

Far more interesting, I think, is to think about all the friends I haven’t met yet. I’m hopefully only a third or quarter into my life (or a fifth!), and so there are probably hundreds of interesting people I don’t even know of yet, maybe people who aren’t even born yet, people who will become important and significant to me, who will have a lot to teach me, who will make me laugh and cry, will challenge me, support me, build me up, break me down, so on and so forth. And all of that is part of the grand adventure, and I need to open up so that I can welcome them into my life. I need to pay attention, look out far and wide, send out signals, messages in bottles so that my many-faced soulmates can find me and come to me. And we can have a nice evening togeher before our souls are extinguished in the inevitable long night of the universe. And it would’ve been a good time. That was all that ever mattered.

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