For other Sins they feel Remorse sometimes,
But sure no Poet e’re had Qualms for Rhimes;
Alas! no wholesom Counsel can be us’d
By a poor harden’d Wretch, when once Bemus’d:
Then don’t inhumanly your Pains mis-spend
On Reprobates, that you can never mend.
—Fr. Knapp, The Annual Miscellany, 1694
The dismissive expression “Don’t waste your breath!” is often overheard as a concluding remark upon an unsatisfactory communication. It signals the collision of well-intentioned analysis and befuddled intransigence. Whatever the circumstances it generally denotes a needless expenditure upon the improvement of a lost cause. My life has been dedicated to productivity and as a result it rattles me to confront either defeat or impermeability. Unless one is hardened to sway others, the conflict may instead simply thwart the relationship. Running into a brick wall has hardly the makings of pregnant intercourse. It oddly reminds me of the characterization of deafness as living in a glass cage. The entire point of interaction with others is the sharing of thoughts. If that reciprocity becomes instead unilateral – if there is no sharing of ideas – then the utility of the relationship is seriously in doubt in my opinion.
It naturally disappoints me to imagine that I have deceived myself to think an association was more than it proves to be. Though for most people this disheartening end is mostly in matters of love, the greater threats I have endured are to those of friendship. Whether I have merely been lucky in love or have failed in friendship I do not know. I suppose one can never have it all and on balance the blessing of an amorous relationship is probably the better of the two. Nonetheless the disintegration of friendship promotes considerable anxiety and related discomposure.
When it comes to romanticizing an alliance it is perhaps no accident that I have cultivated those ethereal attributes for friendship not love. My earliest recollection is the camaraderie between Prince Hal and Sir John Falstaff.
Falstaff is an old, fat, disgraced knight and Prince Hal’s partner in crime. Always looking for a good time, Falstaff eats, drinks, steals, trash talks, and celebrates his way through life – in between naps, of course. A larger than life figure, he’s one of Shakespeare’s most popular and written-about figures.
This inspiration unquestionably insinuated my youthful friendships which were notably characterized by loyalty as hard as brass, excessive indulgences and wanton experimentation which sometimes left a trail of human wreckage in its wake. Real friendship I find always invites promiscuity on one level or another. Friendship practically sanctions disobedience. But just as lovers are star-crossed so too are friends. The outcome can be either favourable or not.
Paradoxically I have tolerated diminished relations of love more than amortized friendships. I can’t say that I put more stock in one than the other but certainly I harbour the view that friendship should be less precarious and therefore more sustainable than love. Probably it merely offends my acquisitive nature to let go. Friendship – being presumably less visceral than love – is seemingly buoyed by correspondingly less tenuous and concupiscent inclinations. But friendship has a long way to go before it succeeds to the pinnacle of unquestioning maternal love for example. Once dissolved the sinews of either love or friendship are seldom renewable.