Monday, November 28, 2005

So Here It Is...

... five days after Thanksgiving and I still haven’t gotten around to completing and posting my obligatory “What I am thankful for” post. There are times where I think a better title for this blog would be, “Procrastination, Its Not Just for Work Anymore,” or, “Sloth, My Second Favorite Sin.” Come to think of it, rating the seven deadly sins might be a fun post. Have to file that bad boy away for a rainy day, or you know, later tonight. In most cases when I have a time-sensitive post to do and I blow the deadline, I will just forget about it or write it and save it for next year (I can’t wait for Canada Day, eh), but I feel like this Thanksgiving post is something I need to get out there as soon as I can get it done.
Thanksgiving is supposed to be one of those times where we gather to celebrate and give thanks for, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “…the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” Over the years the religious overtones of the Thanksgiving feast have gone the way of the Dodo and have been replaced with orgiastic over-eating and watching such classic football match-ups as Dallas Cowboys versus the Denver Broncos.

(As a brief aside I remember this classic match-up being Dallas versus the Washington Redskins, however the Pro Football Hall of Fame Thanksgiving Day Game Results page shows my memory is faulty. Probably for the best since if the Redskins lose on Thanksgiving the Indian massacre jokes almost write themselves.)

Our one concession might be a particularly nice prayer before the Bacchanal begins, or at most we might go around the table and say something we are thankful for. This year we didn’t do any of that but rather prayed and then dove into the grub. I’m not complaining since the answers are always family or another cliché along those lines, but this year I was wondering what I might say. What could I be giving thanks for whilst I sacrifice my stomach to the culinary gods? This is the first year where I really felt like I had something to be grateful for that would be worthy of acknowledgement. I had a new job and what felt like a new lease on life. I was back in Houston where I could be close to some of my best friends. My circle of friends had been growing. It was clear that I would have to say my friends.

Now this struck me as a rather cliché answer and fancying myself a writer and part-time intellectual, I try to avoid being cliché at family functions. I like to think I have a certain mystique to uphold (I am sure I don’t, but then my grip on reality isn’t that tight, so it works out nicely.) The one factor that I could use to excuse this cliché answer is that, in one of those happy confluences of the desire to write and the need to write, I had been considering writing a piece on the nature of friendship for the blog. I have always been mystified by friendship.

What makes people be friends? What allows them to be? What is it about some people that allows you to not talk for years and then pick up with your friendship like no time has passed?

Throughout my life I have always been blessed with an almost shameful number of friends and lately I have been wondering why that is. It was first pointed out to me by this girl I had a crush on back in seventh grade or so. Jill Davis was one of the cheerleaders throughout our school years and thus a popular person, and a person with a lot of friends, or so my young mind believed. (I think it goes without saying that I was NOT one of the popular people throughout my school years.) We were talking one night and the conversation turned to friendships. I don’t remember specifically what was said, but I distinctly remember her pointing out that I had a lot of people I considered my friends and that I was very lucky.

I do not think of myself as a particularly friendly guy (not that I am unfriendly, just neutral) and I know there are friends in my life that I have treated VERY poorly and yet they still remain my friends. I am in awe of this as I tend to be very childish about a lot of things and see the world in very black-and-white terms when it comes to relationships.

The one thing I am sure about friendship is that if I think of you as my friend I will be fiercely loyal to you. A story I heard about Jim Bowie says it best. After being in a bar fight Bowie asked his friend who was present why he didn’t intervene. The friend replied, “But Jim, you were wrong.” Bowie’s reply was, “That’s why I needed a friend. Everyone will help you if you’re right.”

So that is it, really, that is all I know. I was hoping this would be much more epic and revealing, but in the end I continue to be mystified by friendship and yet it is the one thing that gets me through each day. Many of the friendships I have made over the years have allowed me to see that divine spark that resides in each person, the ability to look beyond someone’s obvious failings and see the person they can be. Perhaps that is what is is. Friendship is meant to illuminate the best parts of man.

Ultimately I am thankful for all of my friends. All of the people that see fit to share part of their lives with me and enhance and enrich my life. The people willing to put up with my prolonged adolescence. The people willing to challenge me to be a better person; willing to work with me to slowly make me into a better man. Initially as part of this post I wanted to name names as it were, go through and specifically tell the world what each friend means to me, but as I was working on the list I realized it was going to be so long as to be impossible to read, and doubtless I would have forgotten to list someone, and thus inadvertently offend, so I will leave it at this mass thank you.

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