Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What is friendship…?

It’s an odd topic for someone who has lost so many friends over the years but bear with and, if you’re not lucky, you may learn something before we’re done. So, let’s get going, okay?

…. where was I?

This is definitely one of those things I think about once and end up writing about in a book later on. I was at Taco Bell today. I ordered my Spicy Chicken Burritos and prepared to abscond with a hefty booty of hot sauce packets. (It is the height of irony that I end up paying for eating all those hot sauces in that very same place, too…) Then, this guy drove up through the drive thru and I realized two things about this guy. First, he’s a new customer; he’s never been there before. Second, he’s talking to the guy taking his order as though they were long time friends.

That got me thinking, of course. You see, most of us treat life as a series of transactions. I know I’m guilty of that. I transacted with the guy at Taco Bell. I transacted with my instructor, Mr. Ring, tonight. Transacting is the act of engaging with another person for an expected result. I expect that ordering food from Taco Bell will get me my supper. Paying attention to Mr. Ring’s lecture will help me pass his final. (I’m hoping.)

I see most people going through life this way.

But this guy in the drive thru got me thinking. What happens when we don’t engage others for the expect result but, rather, engage with them without expecting a result of any kind. There’s an obvious answer here and that is “This is friendship”. Obviously.

But I’d like to take this a step forward. What’s on my mind tonight is not “Why don’t more of us act that way, and engage with people without expecting a result?” Rather, I can’t help wondering “Why do so many of us treat life as a series of transactions?” What prevents us from being friendly? What holds us back?

… I don’t know where that’s going. I’m just wondering.

1 comment:

Inkpot said...

A very good observation. I know I have the 'transaction' mentality as well. I don't know where I got it from or why I have it. I have a friend who is completely the opposite. He engages everyone he meets in conversation - in restaurants, toll booths, shops. Most people are thrown by it and don't know how to respond. How did we get like this???