I have a friend I’ve never seen
He hides his head inside a dream
Probably as much as I like words, I like stealing other people’s words.
And these I recall every time I think of an Internet pal I’ve been exchanging e-mails with for the last five years at ever longer intervals. It developed from the discovery that we both like misty autumn mornings, to discussing our (very different) literary tastes, to cherry jam, book publishing, prostitutes, death, and neodymium pipes.
Neil Young’s lyrics remind me of him not only because I’ve never seen him, but also because Krzysztof’s head is filled with the love of nature, idealistic notions, and Plato, who he often recommended to me but, being a bad friend, I never made the effort of reading any Plato to understand Krzysztof better.
Once in a while, I get the feeling I should send him an e-mail… It’s a long while because we’re good friends without being close friends, so we don’t need to contact each other more often. It’s for the same reason that I haven’t read Plato — I probably would read a book if someone close to me was recommending it as important to them.
Still, on a several-monthly basis, I do get the strong feeling that I need to contact Krzysztof. Recently, I began to wonder why it’s so strong, and here’s what I came up with: perhaps even though most of us give priority to close relationships over the superficial ones, we also need the superficial ones to fulfill the selfish need of getting a new picture of our own lives.
When we write to those distant friends of ours, and give them our short summaries of what we’ve been up to in the past several months, we can stop, “listen to ourselves,” and think, for example:
- “Oh my, this doesn’t even sound plausible, going through so much stress and not dying”
- “Hey, hey, how come I didn’t realize I have such an interesting life?”
- “Why does this enthusiastic letter feel so fake? Why do I feel dissatisfied?”
- or, like I have recently: “Thinking about it now, my sadness, even if sometimes overwhelming, is just a small portion of the large, wonderful, and ever-expanding life that I’m sharing with other people.”
It doesn’t matter whether you feel you can be honest with your friend, or whether you’d rather only talk about what’s good in your life, and not about what’s bad. If you take the time to reflect on your words, you’ll get a new picture of your life in all cases. And this helps.
It helps me with my sadness. It can help you too to see how interesting or stressful your life really is. It can also help you fix whatever makes you dissatisfied.
Because having a friend always helps — even if it’s one you’ve never seen.
And if you’d like to see what Krzysztof is up to, go to his blog [PL]. It’s mostly pictures from the Polish mountains, scenes from the author’s life, and his love of nature, books, philosophy, and his daughter described in thousands of words.