I got a bunch of flack for this post that went up last week. It irked readers that I would refer to friends who chose a more traditional lifestyle as ‘boring’. They viewed that type of language as judgmental and even condescending. I have responded individually to some friends’ concerns (and apologized for hurting anyone’s feelings), but I think it is important to clarify my comments in a public post.
In the comments I made, I was not evaluating (or anything like that) people as entities. Someone could be the most fascinating cool person in the world, but if they are too busy to be friends then they cease to become fascinating in their relation to me. For example, when I studied in a religious seminary in Jerusalem, I thought that my teacher walked on water. But she overextended herself teaching at multiple schools and trying to give advice to each of her 100+ students and therefore had no time for a personal relationship with me. This doesn’t make her boring as a person, but did make the relationship between her and me boring/potentially boring because there was no substance or real time there.
Another example: One of my best friends growing up is quite brilliant and devoted to her field of study. She has a family, a career and is by objective means successful. This girl is a great person, but – even going back to college and parts of high school – she was so busy with her studies that she didn’t have much time to hang out and be active friends. I’m sure that I would have a great time if we spent days getting to know each other again, but as is we barely speak. Of course part of this is my fault, but my point is that people who are so busy with their work and families may be interesting people, but don’t make interesting friends because they have no time to be active friends.
One last example (you’ll see the connection below): I went to college with this great guy who I became friends with, and we kept in touch a bit since graduation. He’s a very interesting guy with many cool life experiences and stories. However, whenever we get together, he only talks about himself and never asks anything about what’s going on in my life. I don’t really think of him as a friend because of this self-centeredness / obliviousness.
In conclusion, if I had to make an equation for a good/interesting friendship, there are two must-have factors: 1- Interest in the other person’s life/interest in being a part of it and 2- Having time to be a friend and spend real time together. If either one is missing, it makes for a boring relation or, more accurately, a lack of friendship. (I know that there are exceptions to this rule, as there are to any rule… certain people you have such a closeness with that years can go by and you can still feel a connection.)
Does that clarify my early comments? Does anybody disagree?
posted by ayo