The Problem with Heroes

This was going to be a post about my on-going love affair with coffee. But I decided it might not be suitable for younger folks. Plus, I have a noisier bee in my bonnet.

Friendships tend to be easier for me in my salad days. Having read and loved the entire LoTR series was enough to base a close friendship on. From conversations about LoTR, we’d jump to discussing other literature, art, music and the metaphysics of courage, friendship and love. Purely theoretical at this point, since my friends and I were still in pinafores. Well, maybe except the discussions about friendship.

As an adult though, things are different. A friend of mine posited the theory that people, consciously or otherwise, are inherently selfish. People will tend to only keep individuals around them that fulfill a function. There has to be some kind of payoff on both sides in order for a set of individuals to remain friends. Commonalities which drew my adult friends and I together seem more ephemeral. We are not cobbling together foundational philosophies anymore. That’s already done with and basically set in stone.

But stones can be broken.

And the implications of this last category of friends is the noisy bee in my bonnet. Friends the universe sends you in times of crises. In novels, we read the denouement episode, maybe as an epilogue. And then we close the book.

Do we also close the book in real life?

During the crisis, we can be, and very often are, each other’s heroes. Crisis is, by definition, temporary. If the commonality that drew us together is crisis, does it also mean the friendships formed are also temporary? What happens when our heroes outgrow their functions?

Am I over-thinking this?


8 thoughts on “The Problem with Heroes

  1. If you wish to reduce your relationships to the barest bones, your friend is right: Friendships are formed to fulfill a function. However, just because that is how they are formed, doesn’t mean that just because that area is filled, doesn’t mean that you have to be done with them.
    Take your friendships formed in crisis scenario for example. Let’s say you and I have become friends due to our life being in danger, and we help each other reach safety. For me, that doesn’t mean that we’re no longer friends just because we’re safe. It means that we are closer than before.
    I’m guessing that you are thinking about over the course of years. Friendships are like all other relationships: You have to work at them if you want to keep them. Continuing with the example from above: we would maintain our friendship (if we wanted to) by including each other in our lives. Say I have a desire to see The Avengers 2; I’d call you up, or drop by your house and say, “You want to see this movie with me? I think it would be awesome to see it with you.” And let’s say you had an extra ticket to see Carmen, you could say, “Hey, would you accompany me to see this opera? It would mean a lot to me.”

    And, the friendship would continue. Does that make any sense?

    • Thank you for your thoughts, Mr. Foster. If I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that when a temporary commonality passes, we can find new commonalities (like movies and operas) to develop and maintain the friendship further. The previous crisis then evolves into a reference point, even as new reference points (movie and opera) are developed.

      You are right. It does take a lot of time and work to maintain relationships. If discussions about, for instance, the movie and opera remains on a superficial, banal level, then the friendship also runs the risk of becoming superficial and banal. And banality is boring.

      I suppose friendship is the desire for companionship, supported by commitment to nourish said companionship. So if popping by to physically spend time together is not an option, I’ll just find a way around it.

      Did I understand you right?

      • If all your friendship consists of are superficiality and banality, then how could it be boring? It’s what you put into it.

        You will get whatever you put into all of your relationships. If they are equal, that is.

      • Actually, none of my friendships are superficial or banal. I have a short attention span and get bored very easily. Call it a character flaw 🙂

        So would I be right to say that in your opinion, equality is what ensures we get whatever we put into our relationships with people? Which begs the following questions, really: 1) what constitutes equality? 2) Given that not all relationships are equal, for a given value of equal, are these ‘unequal’ relationships then not worth keeping? and 3) In any given friendship, would equality always be the default assumption?

  2. We have different lives, and like books, we have different heroes. If you want to be happy with no regrets, always be the hero/heroine of your own life. It’s easier to close the chapters.

    • I know what you mean, and I do try to be. At certain crucial junctures though, like in books, some very special people come along to support and help point the way. I still have to be the one to make the decisions, to take the steps. I still have to be the heroine. But those people, those friends, are invaluable.

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