Friendship - Part 1 - My Contacts

My Contacts - or where have all my friends gone.

I am struggling to get to grips with the classification of people I know. I think that they should not be classified, but somehow I am forced to do that, because my email has folders for family, friends, contacts, etc. - and so has my cell phone.

How am I to classify them if I do not have a formal system to do that, because, if I am not really careful, I may classify a friend as a contact and not find him under the friends category when I want to phone him, specially when he has improved in his status towards me in recent times, having remembered by birthday, but it also works the other way round.

Questions which I need to consider is : do I also need categories for enemies, people who talk too long over the phone and my eternal nemesis - call centre or direct marketing people as these swashbucklers are known nowadays.
Just to include them under the term people elevates their status already immensely.
They have no respect for my privacy, time, intelligence or needs. But I can classify them quite easily, but unfortunately only after they have called me (from a private number), but it is quite easy to identify then immediately, because they ask you how you are, before knowing whom they are talking to, and thank you for asking them after their wellness even before you do it - and they never admit that they have phoned you to sell you something until the end of the duel !!!
But they are not my object today, whilst I wish I had a hate folder.

I wish to classify the better part of the spectrum.
Thinking as hard as I can, I cannot come to some intelligent generic process according to which I can classify them. What is the difference between a friend and a contact ?
My first reaction would be that friends give you friendship, commitment, respect, sympathy or at least empathy and loyalty.
Well ... well ... well - this does not work. If I go down my provisional list of contacts I find more of these qualities amongst them than amongst my friends. Or what part of friendship do I not understand.
In fact, I think I should not be surprised to see that I am on the contacts list of my friends and on the friends list of my contacts.

What makes a contact such a good friend then? because I do not see them too often? or they have not tried to borrow money from me (or I from them).

Now that I have set the scene and theme of my blog I wish to delve deeper into it.

I was brought up in an era when friendship was very important to myself and society in general. We were together - at boarding school, in the defence force bungalows, at university hostel - and we would have given our lives for each other. We were even more than family whilst we endured the trials (or vials) of life being poured out onto us unsuspecting novices.
Respect, commitment, loyalty and dedication was never questioned or seen to falter.

Well - with time my family became larger and more important and time consuming and the dedication to my friends waned - as also from their side for the same reasons. I might be pardoned to exclude the usual suspects of drinking partners, who stay friends for life, but which cadre I left many years ago, or my sanity would have left me.

But it did not stop there. The fabric of our whole society started to crumble with things like Television, social networking, globalisation - so today we sit with these friends who are little more than contacts, and whose friendship is no more than skin-deep.

Well - I have made friends in the years after my marriage and these bonds of friendship are even stronger than my old friendships, and they came from a very unsuspecting source ... my children.

My father always told me that I should see family once a year (or less) on a very faint/feint photo, and as the years rolled on, it became a reality in my life .... that one brother of mine - I wonder if he is still alive.

So here I sit with a new dilemma - How do I classify family if they are friends as well? Is family merely contacts - when they are never contacted. That would be a type of un-contact group then.

Back to my children.
I was brought up in a very strict parent/child relationship household (the little time I spent there). I had to do this and that - I had no say - I had to respect - I had no rights - I was at the mercy of whatever struck me. A type of what is known as obedient children.

To then set the scene to become friends with my children in a type known as an obedient parent, would be a challenge indeed, the notion of which I was totally unaware of until they became grown-ups.
First thing I knew I had to totally give up any authority that come with the role of parent (well - after they became 21), because, if a child is younger than that, he/she is far more clever than his/her parents.

If I give up authority which cannot be present in friendships, I need to be able to listen to them attentively while they accuse me unfairly (as they sometimes would), criticise me fairly (as they sometimes should), and leave me alone (as they sometimes could).

Maybe it is the tight bond I have had with friends of my youth, which enabled me to have what it took to be friends of my children. They are too clever to see you faking it, so it better be for real. In fact, I sometimes laugh at myself inwardly, while keeping calm and listening to all the discredit and sometimes even derision I have to take from them - with a smile on my face.

Whilst it was not my intent to bring my children in here, I am glad I can make the acknowledgement : Children - your friendship have enriched my life so much - I cannot start to tell it or to fathom it.

I bear no-one (human being) any bad feelings - save for the direct marketing racketers mentioned above, who may be such good parents or children in their own families in their own right.

So I am reluctant to make a distinction between contacts and friends and family . This type of generic classification is useless and self defeating, because, as Jim Reeves sang (in my own words) : A contact is just a friend you do not know.

And whilst I swooned over the friendship with my children - why can't I put that type of effort into my contacts or associates or even family - specially those on the faint photos.

Maybe it is this Maximalist and Captitalist dream that I am chasing with all my might : ... all things are transient and our ceaseless attempts to grasp at these transient things traps us in an endless cycle of suffering. We can release ourselves from this treadmill of suffering, if we cease to grasp at what is not there - Thank you Siddharta !!!
I made a short visit to my doctor the other day and he left me with (apart from his bill) this sober thought - given to him by a friend of his : I am at the stage of my life where I am trying to set realistic and reachable goals to my life, not a type of fools paradise in the form of a Bucket List. The dreams are gone, and those I reached were empty.

I will henceforth try to classify people in future according to only one generic standard - that they be human and humane. So my email and phone folders will change soon. ... but then ... they must also be ..... well ... friendly .... and of the same .... and ...

On second thoughts - I still hold friendship sacrosanct, and will not easily forget a breach of trust or of any of its other holy ingredients. In fact - none of my friendships have ever survived such breaches - and I cannot see why they should - and that is why I am one of the most fortunate and blessed of men, sitting with less than a handful of true friends.

I must say, however that I not resistant to some recent and more frequent friendship overtures, and that I have in fact been forced to relook at some of my more idiosyncratic old values. My neighbour Willie is silently and without pretense teaching me some of the more valuable nuances of friendship - the type of just knowing and not saying - which I respect and value highly. Maybe friendship is more of knowing and less of saying after all.

I know marriage and friendship is not held sacrosanct by most, but still, I would rather live without that, than with the aftermath of accusations and bitterness, which follows breaches of these. I am still not used to our new world morality where some of us (governments, nations or groups) go out and mow down dozens of 'friends' (or is that fiends) before breakfast, without blinking an eye. I could never digest that type of food for breakfast - not even for lunch or dinner.

Someone once said that the best way to have a friend is to be one. But please !! lets go back to some intrinsic values.