A tragic event yesterday opened a decade-old wound for me, one that might heal but will always stay as a scar.
And it reinforced a lesson I can never forget.
The year was 2000. My family was going through a difficult event. Relatives and my parents’ friends kept giving me ‘tips’ to handle it. Nobody cared to ask how I felt.
I couldn’t focus on studies. I had no real friends. Well, it wasn’t my classmates’ fault. I hadn’t given them anything to respect me for. Everything about me spelled the word ‘L-O-S-E-R’.
He was the only one who stood by my side. My true friend. When everyone ordered me to keep my feelings aside and focus on the greater good, he said, “That sucks. It’s shitty how apathetic elders are.”
I loved music, but Britney Spears and Enrique rocked the charts in those days. And I hated them. He introduced me to the heavy mental band Metallica. It changed my life. It made me quit engineering and want to become a musician. When I told my parents, they looked like they had seen a ghost. Neighbors and relatives were equally horrified. But my friend said, “If you want to do it, you must do it.”
I quit my studies and picked up a job. With my first salary, I bought an electric guitar to realize my dream of becoming a musician. He was with me when I bought it. He kept saying that I would do something big someday.
Then we lost touch.
A few years ago, he gave up his life. At the tender age of twenty six. The butterfly, whose flapping wings created a hurricane in my life, was gone. I didn’t get to know about it until two years after.
What’s more, he was deeply disturbed during the last few months of his life. He was always there when I needed him. But I wasn’t. I should have. I could’ve listened, made him feel better.
Then again, maybe I wouldn’t. I hate to admit it, but I didn’t have an open mind in those times. Maybe I would have made him feel worse. Because all I did was tell people what to do, regardless of their personal feelings. Only in the last five years have I grown internally, after adopting many lessons from MS Dhoni. But that’s not the point.
The point is we must keep in touch with people who matter.
Often, life happens. We drift away from people we love. We fondly cherish the friendship’s memories.
But we don’t know what our distanced friend could be going through. Does she need me? Does he wish I was around? Does he wish someone was around? That someone can be you.
It’s been twelve years. I miss my friend a lot. It was his birthday last week. But I couldn’t wish him. So I did what I did each year. I left a birthday wish on his defunct-Facebook profile.
Don’t just keep in touch with people to get something. Keep in touch to give something… something nobody else can offer. Be there for your friends. They’ll thank life for sending an angel like you. Your butterfly wings can create a positive hurricane in their lives.
Exercise common sense with this emotion. You can offer unconditional love by accepting people for who they are rather than what you want them to be.
Yet, don’t love at the expense of your own self esteem. It’s okay to let people use you once or twice. But if you notice a pattern, move away… without malice, without anger or resentment. Be like water. Some people don’t deserve you. It’s their loss. Accept it and move on.
I’m guilty of not keeping in touch with people who care. It took a memory to make me realize how selfish I was.
It’s not always about me. In fact, it should almost never be about me.
I will step out of my comfort zone. I will keep in touch. I will ask people if I can do something for them. Will you?