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Crises and Friendship

Experienced shrinks know that folks are more open and less resistant to change during a crisis. The most obstinate, chauvinistic husband, once the wife he loves demands a divorce, can be surprisingly receptive to what he previously viewed as abhorrent, touchy-feely couple’s counseling.

This openness to change and new ideas can also occur during health crises. Folks who discover they have only a short time to live often become open to spiritual ideas and religious practices they previously had shunned. They also discover their IRAs and stock portfolios aren’t much comfort during such times and often develop a deeper appreciation of their relationships with supportive friends and family.

I recently experienced a health crisis and, predictably, my defenses came down. Feeling very vulnerable and mortal, I found myself appreciating and assessing my friendships. I discovered that I missed one friend very much-a friend I’d been close to for a very long time but with whom I’d had a falling-out some time earlier.

As I struggled with my post-op difficulties I sat thinking about how short life is and how permanent death is. Then, not wanting to go another day without my friend back in my life, I decided to call him and try to patch things up. The false pride and stubbornness I had been feeling and which had contributed to the friendship impasse seemed to dissolve in the light of such a powerful perspective. I called and he very gracefully responded to my overture. We had a satisfying catch-up phone conversation and it was clear that we would be close friends once again.

If we adopt a positive attitude, the tough times can give us important and helpful perspective. Toward the end of my dad’s life, when he was struggling with serious, debilitating health problems, he never complained. When I asked him how he managed to handle his situation so stoically, he said, “There is a saying-‘I felt bad because I had no feet until I saw a man with no legs,’-things can always be worse, Ron. I’m thankful I’m alive.”

It is this perspective which can allow us to transcend petty grievances and to take the high road with our friends. It can also allow us to find a humorous way to frame difficult times. Somehow, being able to laugh at our predicaments makes them more bearable. Sometimes even dark humor works.

In this vein, Ron-a musician friend–was for many years a serious amateur photographer. There was nothing he liked better than getting up at 5 AM and climbing a mountain or walking a desolate area and taking photos. He has a wonderful eye and I looked forward to his annual Christmas cards, each of which would feature some wonderful nature scene. He worked hard as a musician and as a frame-shop owner and saved for his retirement. His plan was to travel the world, take photos and eat in fine restaurants. Then, soon after he retired, he developed a spinal condition, lost the use of his legs and became wheel chair bound. Some time after this occurred we were at a restaurant sharing a meal and I asked him how he was holding up. He said, as though talking to himself, “Ah yes-retirement–welcome to the f—  golden years!” Then he laughed, shook his head, and said, “Hey, man-when I’m sitting talking with a friend, I’m a ten! When I’m alone and trying to get around using that damn walker I’m a two!”

Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to post it by clicking on the comments link below.   

Comments

Comment from Joe Cadena
Time: May 13, 2009, 5:47 pm

Good to hear from you again. Ah, the insights that occur to us when our immortality is not so easy to buy into. But it’s a kick to go on seeking our erstwhile goals, even if timetables get scrambled and bars get adjusted(not lowered!) Giving up the day job has been good for one soul. And like your friend I have an increasing appreciation for time spent with friends. Here’s hoping your life is going well. Joe C.

Comment from Kyle
Time: December 10, 2015, 2:07 am

You ought to actually think about woikrng on developing this weblog into a major authority on this market. You evidently have a grasp handle of the topics everyone is looking for on this website anyhow and you could actually even earn a buck or two off of some advertisements. I’d discover following recent subjects and elevating the quantity of write ups you set up and I assure you’d begin seeing some amazing targeted visitors in the close to future. Just a thought, good luck in whatever you do!

Comment from Dr. Carducci
Time: April 30, 2018, 7:25 pm

Thanks for the kind words Kyle. I developed this website prior to putting out the Friendship book in an attempt to build a platform from which to sell the book. It turns out my primary interest was the analysis and sifting of ideas about friendship leading up to and including the writing of the book. I’m just not particularly interested in the marketing side of things and am not so much ambitious as I am curious. In a related vein, I’m currently intrigued with the “achievement trap” and the price that “driven” individuals pay for falling into it.

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