Thursday, September 17, 2009

Friendship vs Keeping Score

There is no score keeping in friendship. Period. I thought I'd get right to the point without my usual preamble this time. So, if you're on a tight schedule you can go now.

We have all been there--someone gets their knickers in a twist and plays the guilt card. It usually starts with "after all I've done for you" or words to that effect and goes down hill from there. I say right here, right now, that that is the lowest level a person can sink to and still call themselves a friend. There is no score keeping in friendship. Why would anyone think that a grocery list of good deeds and sacrifices would make the listener any more inclined to cave in to the designs of the list maker? Guilt is not a weapon--it's a crutch to prop up an already losing situation. In an esoteric self-serving relationship that kind of tactic is to be expected because the list makers' accounting is as shallow as he is. But in a real friendship there's no need for a litany of generous acts because that's what friendship is--generosity of time and spirit.

No two friends give equally to the relationship. But they both give what they can when they can and it isn't entered into a ledger. There's no debit and no balance due. Short of giving up a kidney or some other life-saving organ you are doing what is expected of a friend. Sharing the highs and lows of life, listening beyond hearing, being a shoulder, being there--good, bad, and ugly. Being a good friend means you have to allow your friend to do all this for you as well. Friendship doesn't require martyrdom. It is easier to give than to receive. That's because we've lost the talent for gratitude. It takes real courage to be the recipient of kindness. It requires a grace that is seriously lacking in our present world.

Look at all the people you think of as friends. I mean really look at them and think "Would I give them a kidney to save their lives?" "Would I push them out of the way of a bus knowing I could die?" "Would they do it for me?" Or perhaps more important and less dramatic: "Do I really want to listen to yet another how unfair life is story?" "How much do you need?". I don't have the answers. But there's a thousand scenarios and as many ways to play them. Friendship isn't scripted. In life some of us are stars, some of us are supporting cast and some of us are walk-ons. The roles are always changing because we are always changing. That's the beauty of being and having a friend. Todays walk-on is tomorrows star. We are never type-cast because every day presents a new scene to develop our character.

All gifts bright and beautiful,
All efforts great and small,
All advice both wise and wonderful-
A true friend gives them all.

My apologies to the original author of that verse for taking poetic license. There is no score keeping in true friendship. All that's required is giving and receiving whatever is possible and doing so gracefully.


  1. "Why would anyone think that a grocery list of good deeds and sacrifices would make the listener any more inclined to cave in to the designs of the list maker?"

    My mother needs to rethink this. Doing so would save her so much frustration.

  2. Not to mention it would give her far more meaningful relationships with the people she cares about.

  3. No kidding. BTW, I'm getting you in on some linky-love action over at Corndog. You've been 'totally linked' for today's FMJRA ;-). (Fulll Metal Jacket Reach Around in observance of Rule 2)

  4. Thanks!! I just went to the Other Mccain and had a field day. He's funny as hell whether I agree or not. Thanks again