The American novelist Richard Ford, in a book excerpt published in The Guardian, says he doesn’t have any close friends and is happy to have it that way.
He wrote that he has a general sense of good will toward everybody, but doesn’t count on any individual very much. That’s okay with him, because he doesn’t want anybody to count on anything from him, beyond basic decent behavior.
He criticized philosophers’ ideas of friendship and went on to write—
If I could have a better, more realistic and functioning model for friendship, what would it be?
I wouldn’t like it if it was that I had to be similar to my friend – in temperament, in wit and wits, in interests, experience, age and gender.
It could not be that I’d be willing freely to unpack in front of my friend all my life’s many shames and miscalculations (matters that can be outsourced with therapy or just stuffed).
It would not be that I’d have to always get along with my friend, or even always wish him well (just not wish him ill). He need not think my shames weren’t shameful.
It would not be that my friend and I have to agree about what constitutes good and bad in the world. He need not feel required to do for me what I can’t do for myself.
I would not have to be willing to take a bullet for him, to have his back, to be there for him, or even renounce something I deeply desire so that he can have it.
I would not have to be always candid or capable of delivering hard truths. (Although I might do it anyway.)
And it could not be that I never complain to my friend, or about my friend – to his face or behind his back.
Friendship ought to be understood as always supplementary in nature. Thus our friends should be as easy to forgive as our enemies.
And as with all things, friendship need not promise to last forever, but only so long as it allows us the freedoms we would want to have without it.
Maybe it is that friendship should do for us what a great novel can (and a novel might of course do it better): reconcile us to life as it is, and make us more real to ourselves.
In other words, friendship ought not short-circuit one’s faculties for critical thinking and personal preference. Though to ask this of friendship might be to ask the impossible.
Source: Richard Ford | The Guardian