Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rethinking: friendship

Growing up we form friendships based on geographical proximity and I think necessity. There is no prejudice or malice, just the need for a play mate close to home. These normally develop into long lasting friendships that span time and distance. Well that’s true for most men. I am told the best friends in a girl’s life change with each PMS episode but I may be wrong in this too.

We then grow this to friends based on a shared torture regime namely school. So statements like we went to Kitante Primary school together used to explain how people know each other and are friends. Back in the day there were not that many schools and so you all went to the same hand full of school which meant you were more likely to meet you neighborhood playmate there.  This change allowed you to have both your home friends and school friendsi.e. those who were your friends only within the confines of the school perimeter.

This is further amplified when we move away to attend secondary school. This is where we come into our own. As we grow we meet different people from all over the country. We lose some old friends along the way and gain more based on our ever changing worldview and values.

This season makes for some awkward holidays when former childhood friends meet and feel like strangers or one of your former primary school friends keeps ducking you because he or she went to that weird school on the further side of civilization.

Somewhere along this high school journey, some of us meet God. He arrests and we swear undying devotion and allegiance to him. This causes a further shift in our friendship landscape. It is here that I suspect things start getting a little complicated.

You see, all your non saved friends are labeled worldly and your told to stay away, after all what does darkness have with light. This view point right here is just a pile of bull crap although we do need to watch who we call our close friends after all it’s easier to push a squatting man.

Now enter the young adult phase. I don’t know about you but phase seems to have the chemical confusion of adolescence and the morose depression of adulthood. Everything is changing and I mean everything. Suddenly they have removed the safety and the world is rushing at you full speed and you have nowhere to hide and no instructions to guide you through it all.

This phase is rather potent for me. You see I was a loner most of my life and actually happy with it. But I get saved and there is this change. I discover my inner people skills and I get quite the friendlist. I was relieved because deep down their friendship validated me. I was terrified of being alone or lonely. So I visited, kept in touch and hungered after these friendships. This was all done under the umbrella of ministry and don’t get me wrong it was all genuine most of the time. In fact these salient fears came up years later when as happens with life things begun to change again.

Everyone I know goes to one university and I alone go to another. I have to face my aloneness and loneliness. Luckily I was a proud chap determined not to let anything get me down. So I soldiered on but in the dark silent load shedded nights of Mukono I stood face to face with my fears and they won again and again.

Throughout campus I portray one thing during the day while at night I was transformed into something totally different like a wear wolf under a full moon. It’s at this time that I start noticing my low times last way to long. My grades slip and my faith takes a dip. For some reason not even my dogged determination helps me. What’s worse all the things I used to do to get me up and going, the prayer and bible reading and fellowship just becomes bland. My soul was thirsty for a water I could not describe. I knew what I did not want but did not know what what I needed looked or tasted like.

Fast forward to now. I different version of the same battle and this time I just explode, covertly of course. First person we “stopped” being friends with was because I called them fat. Many months later I was unfriended in real life for reasons even now I still don’t understand. Others I avoided because they just exacerbated me more and left me acerbated. My mouth seemed to lead the way and the slights of my tongue were mightier than my apologies.

And so I gave up on friendships that seemed to much work. I opened myself to the possibility that people I had known for years and had shared important aspects of my physical and spiritual growth together would no longer be that important in my life and me in theirs. I realized that, hey, I can make new friends and so I let my fair people skills guide me. If I met someone and something about then grabbed me I struck up a conversation and then let it all to God, if it was to be we would link up.

I gave up strife and effort but I did not abandon civility and courteous behavior. I dialed down immensely. But still I lose friends and still my mouth is the culprit.

So this is what I have decided. I am an honest, opinionated, tactless man cursed with pride and the hard headedness of a buffalo.  My head , my heart and my mouth do not always coordinate and sadly my means do not allow me to demonstrate my love and concern. This means that one moment I shall be super nice and sensitive and the next moment as callous as a sailor in a whore house. Its not always intentional nor is it even obvious sometimes.

Like I pointed out, I am a little bit worn out so if I pull at these friendship strings and feel no pull from the other side, I don’t sever the rope, I tie it down somewhere for when I feel a tag from the other side.

Because I am a bull in a china shop, I expect things will break but I believe that as adults we can and we should look beyond some of these slights and if we cannot to be open, end the relationship. I am not one for pretense.

Oh yes, I have had a looong year and sometime I don’t want to talk to you or see you or pour my heart out to you and sometimes when I want to do all these things I don’t want you to open your mouth and spew some nice Christian jargon, I just want you to shut up and partner with me in hating. You can send you rebuke by text later.

Or sometimes I just want to swear and be mean to someone. You may be that someone. And know that sometimes my rave and rant has nothing to do with you. Good thing I always give fair warning…I think.

To me friendship fills that void left by family and God. Ti should be that one place where we can be honest and mean without taking everything to heart. It should be that combination, at this point in our lives of childhood friendship, I just need a playmate and you shall do as well as that of primary, we have been through shit together and that of high school we identify with something bigger than each other and that of adulthood…measured and tampered by experience and love and God.

I don’t know if I have been a good friend but I have tried. Right now the strong indomitable Andrew Is worn out and tired and just needs a break. If I call you be fine. If I don’t, be fine. If you call and I sound bored be fine. If I am weirdly excited be fine…I may have imbibed some happy meds. I probably want to spend a bigger amount of time alone and not with you. Be fine. Oh and when I come seeking you out it may be selfish…be warned…be fine.

This sun shall set and when the dust is settled from this epic rethinking of friendship, its it those left around with whom we shall skip hand in hand into the sunset leaving rainbows in our wake….or not. I am still re thinking all of this friendship stuff.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Girl with the Blank Stare in her eyes.

(unfinished pieces)

There she sat, in her long blue dress, hunched up knees to chin with her arms wrapped round her legs. She swayed softly as if moved by a gentle breeze. The sun was shining but she seemed cold.

Her choclately skin seemed pale, almost grey and she stared listlessly at the ground. The sun was out, slightly toasty but she seemed unaware of it. Everything around her was bright and green drawn in palettes of colour and she and only she was drawn in shades of grey.  She cast an aura of shades of grey.

But not all was grey. Here and there you could see colour. Her finger tips were a delicate pink. Here hair band was a brilliant blue and her lips held just a hint of colour, evidence that life still coursed through them.  Her eyes lashes were long and black thick as an African mush.  The tips of her hair, natural and curly fluttered ever so slightly when the wind picked up slightly.

I walked to her gently, my brown suit drinking in the sun. I had a few minutes to spare and thought I walk through city square would do me good, after all it was the only place between my current stops that gave me a chance to sit and rest. Hers was the only bench with room. I had stopped when I had seen her.

Everybody seemed to avoid her as if she cast a spell that kept them away. Or perhaps they did not see her. They obviously did not seem to notice her at all, or the space on her bench. I guess not one was brave enough. I shivered thinking of the chill she most probably exuded. But I was drawn to her, that and my feet hurt.

Re Thinking it all.

I stop and see the confusion of the world and wonder…is the confusion of the church a better substitute.
In the last months as I have battled depression, failure and all manner of personal demons I have heard to think hard about some of the moments that have defined my past year.

I have had to rethink politics. Will all my friends shouting and campaigning under the Black Monday Movements actually cause change? Is it a passion filled tirade with about as much future as the white rhino and the life span of a fly? What are my views about politics anyway?  I have had to answer these questions and still refine those answers.

I have had to rethink church. Right now there seem to be several factions split between the traditional churches and here we have all those Anglican protestant and other traditional denominations. There is the “born again” faction characterized by wild gesticulations and noisy overnight services. Then there is what I call the alternative style churches. There are mostly new and tech savvy for the most part. This is where you find the bohemian crowd and the others who found their traditional churches too…well traditional and the born again churches I guess too noisy. Please note I said church and not faith.

I have had to rethink dreams. Anyone who has followed this blog or read any of my pieces on Facebook has come across the Chasing your dreams series . I have had to rethink this whole concept. I have accepted that time is a greater ally and the straightest path is not always straight and that sometimes I need to stop and camp a whiles on this journey. I have learned that when you smile, make sure you fangs show but like a gentle she wolf, never bare them in anger, malice or hate. Just let them know you have them as well and yours Is a choice not to use them…unless they provoke you.

I have rethought money and poverty. These two seem to be the yin and yang of my existence. Money is not what I work for but it’s a just recompense for the expenditure of my talent. The journey out of poverty is not that easy. Stop reading get rich quick scheme books, work hard, save as much as you can, give as much as you can and be content. The last bit is playing me.

I have rethought friendship. This is the one year that most of my friendships seem to have imploded or just gone into some sort of coma. I will not lie, I am not all torn up about all of them. In fact these days are am not as quick to save friendships. I believe they should develop organically and just go where they may of course with a little trimming and such here and there. I am not trying to grow a bonsai tree but a radiant flourishing bush or tree. I do my part or what I can cause at the end of the day no amount of water or manure makes trees or bushes grow faster…perhaps a little better.

I am still rethinking…perhaps soon we shall share deeper exactly what I have been thinking on some of these topics.