Quality > Quantity

The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend. ~Aristotle

One doesn't know, till one is a bit at odds with the world, how much one's friends who believe in one rather generously, mean to one. ~D.H. Lawrence

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. ~C.S. Lewis

In the last month, I have witnessed the steady, silent departure of more than a dozen "friends" from my life, their craven exits unannounced and equally unwelcome.

But given the choice between sharing Life's journey with several hundred fair-weather acquaintances or a few dedicated souls whose unwavering loyalty has been proven, I will choose the latter. Always.

The people in your life who mean the most are the ones who stand by you, who encourage you, who uplift your foundering spirits and restore your abject hopes when the light of optimism has waned to a nearly imperceptible flicker. Their remonstrations for emotional strength when you are two quarts low are often my only source of motivation. For these friends - few though they may be - I am now and will eternally remain - profoundly grateful.

If this experience has taught me anything, it is to value those friends whose hearts remain inexplicably entwined with yours through every tribulation. Sometimes those people are the ones you least expected to weather the storm with you, but they are the ones to be cherished. There is no greater joy than knowing you have an ally (several, if you're quite fortunate) who will take your hand, hold it in theirs, and speak the most tender words you'll ever hear: "Come on, we're in this together, every step of the way."

A month ago, I cried rivers of tears over the friends who left. Now, I shed tears of thankful joy for those who remain. They are my life support, my champions of hope, my beacons of light in these darkened days. These precious souls cannot possibly fathom the depths of my gratitude. I will owe my present survival and any future success to their kindness. By trading the artificial for the authentic, an illusion for reality, perhaps I have not lost so much after all...


Learning to breathe...

"Strength and tolerance are partners." ~Khalil Gibran

No one said this would be easy... Some days are better than others; some are pure hell. Still, as with everything in life, success is often measured in baby steps, and I have to believe that patience and hope will pay off in the end...


Of Dogs and Men...

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~Ben Williams

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace. ~Milan Kundera

I'm fairly certain the last time I was happy - I mean, really and truly, incalculably happy - was when I had a dog. Or dogs, as it was.

Dogs are the ideal companion. They are often better companions than human friends because even though they may eat your shoes and shit on the carpet (most humans do neither, if you're lucky), a dog is loyal and loving. And even the worst dog is glad to see you when you come home. They lick your face and wag their tails with unbridled joy when they receive your time and attention. And what's even better? When you pour out your heart and soul to your canine companion, they just listen with trusting ears and a gaze that says, "I'm here for you, pal."

Human friends, on the other hand, will fail you. It's a matter of fact. Hell, we all fail ourselves from time to time, so it's statistically impossible that we can never fail another person. We humans are fallible, in so many ways. Such is life, I suppose.

But what I cannot fathom is how so-called "friends" will acknowledge a friend experiencing a bout of stress or other typical life event that renders them needy (and/or a total basket case) and otherwise incapable of thinking/acting clearly and say to them, "Our friendship isn't over, but I'm going to put some distance between you and me for a while until you get your shit figured out."

Really? WTF?!?

That's like seeing someone's house burning down and telling them, "Well, I hope you get that under control. Good luck with all that, but I'm going back to my own life and whatever shows I've recorded on DVR."

I mean, WHAT. THE. FUCK.

What kind of friend watches passively while your house burns down (metaphorically speaking) or while your life literally crumbles around you?

I have no answers. I only have first-hand experience that has taught me a few things: when the road of Life gets bumpy, you're sometimes better off having a dog. Even if that means you have a favorite pair of shoes you can no longer wear because Fido has turned one into a chew toy. Because at the end of the day, having a trusted companion with four legs is better than having several hundred fair-weather, two-legged companions of the human kind who walk away when things get rough. (Ruff?)

Note to self: consider getting a dog, and soon...


When Life Hands You Lemons...

There is no shortage of pithy aphorisms regarding adversity:
Adversity is the first path to truth. ~Lord Byron
The gem cannot be polished without friction nor man without trials. ~Confucius
There is no education like adversity. ~Disraeli 
Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. ~Kahlil Gibran
Reading trite little sayings is the verbal equivalent of taking TheraFlu when you're sick: it's never tasty, but there is some benefit in knowing that someone, somewhere, at some point, concocted something that helps you when you need it most. Trouble is, I can't stand TheraFlu (even at my lowest, sickliest point). However, it does do a body good. I can run down to the nearest pharmacy and stock up on that vile stuff...which is fine and all, but why isn't there an OTC remedy for angst? I could reeeeally use a scrip for extra-strength "Blues Be Gone" (in pill form, preferably) if such a thing existed...

For me, words and music are the constant companions which nourish my soul, which, in recent days (Oh, who am I kidding? It's been coming on for years, giving plenty of subtle clues along the way to which I've turned a blind eye, as I am wont to do - curse that lifelong bad habit!) has been in the death throes of some heinous malady that makes the flu look like a picnic. It ain't pretty, and it sure as hell hasn't been fun.

Existential crisis? Mid-life crisis? Garden-variety nervous breakdown?

Everything's a possibility; nothing is a certainty.

All I know is, I'm blogging again.

When friends fail me... when love goes sour... when Chicken Little's prognostications become reality... that's when I return to my first loves: words and music.

Let the healing and recovery begin.