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Sociability • Friendship

Our Very Best Friends

Sometimes, when we are down, there are friends who are able to offer us something nicer still than solutions: companionship. 

They don’t in any way try to ‘solve’ our problems; they do something far harder and less common, they manage simply to listen to them.

Richard Diebenkorn, Two Women at a Table, 1963

They are content to merely be with us as we try to explain exactly how hopeless it feels and how awful everything is; their pride is not offended by the scale of our despondency. They’re grown up enough to be able to witness the furious child in us.

They are secure enough in their resourcefulness not always insistently to press it upon others. They are sufficiently unthreatened by their own gloom not to be overly frightened by its mirror image in someone else.

They don’t interrupt us as we insist that life has no meaning, that matters are doomed, that there is no such thing as love or trust, that we are headed for catastrophe and that we want to die… They have the sanity to know that this – too – will pass.

They do something yet wiser and kinder than attempt to cheer us up; they allow us to be exactly as relentlessly miserable as we need to be.

They offer us something more cheering still than optimism: all the time we require to be sad.

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