Many a shrewd one did I find: he veiled his countenance and made his water muddy, that no one might see therethrough and thereunder. But the clear, the honest, the transparent—these are for me the wisest silent ones: in them, so profound is the depth that even the clearest water doth not—betray it.—
— Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra
School had ended, and with it barely any real friends were made, another duty was complete, another act in the play of life. I was still toying with my skills, sharpening them with frustration. Systems were my only interest. At least up to this point.
It appeared to me the more I looked into it, that people at that point were resistant to anything beyond their own views, their own behavior. And even though we were different, I regarded difference with some other kind of view. To me difference meant something to be explored. Different means exactly, different, and different was incomparable so naturally it could not be better or worse, only, something else. So I always regarded what was different with an attitude of exploration, it was intriguing. With that in perspective, I wanted to explore an interesting system by itself, human interactions. To find the Lego pieces for those and assembling techniques.
After graduating from school, I had met online an odd person, I will refer to him as RA. The talk about that person will be saved for a later memory that of Aliens, espers and time-travelers.
At the very start of university, I decided that it was about time to venture in understanding people. Not all people, just the one that exhibit something curious to my eye. I did not have to explore something which does not spike my enthusiasm. And so I started monitoring and interacting with people. This was very awkward at first, I sit and listen and barely talk. But then I started forming a smaller circle of friends throughout the first semester. The first few weeks of the semester however were spent roaming about and sitting remotely reading books and listening to music, but later on it turned out as our classes progressed I started meeting other kind of people than what I was used to meet in school. University has that property, since it caters for a whole lot of specialization and people choose their studies, you will end up meeting interesting people.
At that time I remember I was sitting alone listening to music, in a remote isolated part of campus, when a person that was in my programming class came and sat next to me, awkward as I may be I don’t remember the details, but I was a shy and awkward person then (I still am to this day, but only less apparent) so I remember we talked and she used to listen to the same music as I did, which was an oddity at school. Eventually we ended up chatting more often. And that was how I met my first friend (which I will refer to as M throughout the posts). Shortly after, I started hanging around an old acquaintance from school, since he ended up in the same class as I did, and he used to hang out with a bunch of people and I used to be there, silent and listening and sometimes talking (if I recall properly) I will refer to him as E for the purpose of this post.
During that time I started experimenting with writing, I first wrote a poem as a series of comments and replies on facebook and I also wrote other notes throughout that period (the beginning of the semester). The poem was read by some friends of a friend of E that used to hang with us, I will refer to her as R. R added me on msn, and we used to chat daily for hours until R became my second friend.
It is not quite clear why they would be friends, but I knew that, I could talk with them the way I normally talk to myself. I could express myself with people who tell me exactly and genuinely what they were doing, and exploring themselves. This was the main reason I chose to be friends with those two, and not just friendly. We could talk for what I thought at the time outside the Theatre of life. The pointless assumptions, the protocols and the rules. And while people still do hold a mask, even when pretending not to hold one, the mask was a bit less concealing than the general one worn by people. And thus we could chat for hours about whatever we thought, or believed.
This is what I wanted, genuine interaction, this is what I sought after. I did not want fake friends to boost my self esteem, for I needed none. But I wanted to explore what other people genuinely think or experience. Little did I know at the time that it would help me understand myself more, and lie less to myself. For this I am thankful, even-though later on we ceased to do that. But for that time at least, it was most instrumental for my personal growth.
This brought new challenges to my inexperienced self. My awkward self was faced with two people and their issues. With their sadness and happiness, and secrets. R was as I recall overly sensitive, and would take things too personal whenever we were discussing, and would sometimes make no sense or fight for trivial reasons. At the time this used to quite upset me, however her touch with her emotions and self led me to feel, I used to feel passion towards my work, but this was another type of feeling, I felt empathy and compassion, I wanted her to be happy, and so we kept on talking even-though plenty of harsh things were said to me, even though I said harsh things myself. I realized that my experience was different, and the way I see things, would threaten how others view things. And when that happened at the time, I realized how fierce people were at defending their own views. Talking to people helped me explore my own emotions a bit more. And I was sad, I was sad at the world, how it is all an act, it is all a stage. I am still sad to this day about how many distractions are put to distract people from becoming, people. And those 2 people, at the time, with their honest relaying of information and their feelings gave me a bit of hope. Hope that I could have a small world, a small world away from the play. A world without marionettes and mannequins, which had no script save that of the laws of nature. Seeing both at their worst and best, made me explore a lot of things, even my feelings. I was attracted, but not the kind of attraction you would expect of people asking others to be significant in their lives then dating. But I was attracted in the same way, that I wanted the best for them, and wanted them to feel great in any way I could manage. And I did my best, even-though I was the source of some of their own trouble.
For the first time I got hugs, I felt physical contact in the sense of someone touching me or hugging me. I remember I used to recoil at it. I used to hate it at first, but then, when it felt genuine, then did it feel warm. The authenticity allowed me to get over these inexperiences. And then I realized there were different kinds of communication, different kinds of hugs, there was the far one where the person can be easily seen to be doing their duty, and those felt annoying, but there were the close ones, those that were fake and annoying still, and those that were genuine and very warm.
Throughout this first year at university, I was pretty much focused on exploring being a genuine friend to people, to these two mainly, and university wasn’t much of an interest, pretty much like studying systems always trumped school. Exploring people and interacting with these friends was more important than university. And so my nights used to be spent at some points awake fully, worried about a friend, or wondering what to do, or recovering from a harsh discussion with a friend. Yes, when I used to open up at first I felt vulnerable, and thus any slight rejection from friends would damage me seriously, I always felt ignored and rejected before, and the fact that some friends used to tell me that I was a mean person to them used to pull me down quite badly. But I learned, I learned that vulnerability and the pain wasn’t the friend’s fault, but mine, and mine alone, it was because I wasn’t that much confident in my view of myself.
The problems with my friends was mainly due to the fact I used to speak freely, I used to speak my beliefs and emotions in blunt ways that would sometimes shake theirs and end up with both of us being defensive. But I never believed in friendships built over marionette strings and protocols, so it was this or nothing. A protocol oriented friendship would be too dull and predictable that I could simply imagine it, and needed no friends. While the genuine one would open up to new ways of growing, both for me, and the friend. Such was my guiding principle, and such was the main reason of losing friends.
Holding a friend on my shoulder while they cried themselves till no tears where there.
Staying up late concerned that the friend was going to kill themselves. And whether or not I had helped in that and if it were my fault.
I remember the fights, the bad names I was called. The cold personality I exhibited. The harsh words that I said.
I will speak daggers to her, but use none
- Shakespeare, Hamlet
I remember being called a good and bad friend, a monster, the “worst friend one could have”. Defensive systems are quite resistant and offensive.
A year later, M finds herself a new boyfriend, and seems to distance far greater, with the conversations drying off and becoming infrequent. I remember, that I recalled M on a starry night and text-ed her something about it, only to get shot down by it being considered like flirting and her boyfriend being around. Ever since the authenticity faded it was all an act again with M just talking the usual, like everyone else. I felt that the authenticity for me to express myself was no longer there, it was mostly an act again. At that time that was gone, but then the lessons weren’t. M was back in the friendly case. And that is quite okay. We still talked a bit, but not much, and about nothing significant.
Later on that year after 2 and a bit years of conversations and discussion R and I were having a lot more fights, and more intensely, I could not keep up with it, it was still genuine, and that was the only reason it was still going on, but it was becoming too racked with guilt and negative memories. I needed a break, but I had known that I was too important for her by now, since this is the kind of trait genuine conversation leads to. She was important to me, and I was to her. But I could not bear it anymore. It was too damaging, so I started breaking off contact for a while slowly and slowly step by step. It was too dangerous to break up at once. One small mistake and she’d lose all enthusiasm, it had to happen at steps, or so I thought. Although she did not know it at the time, but doing so, was very painful to me. Since I had genuinely known that she was relying on me for support. And breaking off that support was like breaking off the oxygen for a person, imagine taking this decision for someone you care for. It was painful. But she had to find her inner strength to pull through, she was ready for that. I had redirected her to a forum for her to express, she had writing, and she had enough support to pull through, or so I thought. I’ve never shown that pain, the cut had to be harsh, or she’d take advantage of the weakness. Trial by fire. I knew I’d probably lose her after that, but I wanted for her to become independent of me, then will I ever consider her again for our conversations, and that would reduce the fights, the guilt and everything a lot more.
And it endured, for communication was always honest. But the guilt was perhaps too big. The memories I have invoked to be remembered were stained with the defensive stances and the guilt.
And I was alone again. I had to find distractions, so I took up a job and buried myself in work. I thought that would distract me, but I still had sleepless nights. If only things were that easy.
Everything among them talketh; no one knoweth any longer how to understand. Everything falleth into the water; nothing falleth any longer into deep wells.
— Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra