Getting the Hang of Friendship

For me friendship is tantamount to love.

Getting the Hang of Friendship

For me friendship is tantamount to love.

Country Khofiz Shakhidi
Khofiz Shakhidi Country

From times immemorial the few endowed with empathy have been considered very special people. So Omar Khayyam likening the compassionate to mirrors is right on target. Emotional intelligence,  propensity for friendship, empathy and other terms have been coined to describe this human feature attracting all in need of emotional warmth and acceptance. Khofiz Shakhidi, our all-time columnist and GTL Group Board Chairman, shares his ways of keeping old friendships alive and making new friends.

There’s a difference between infatuation and love. I know where a distinct borderline between a passing passion and a true feeling lies. When people live together for many years their relationship goes through different stages. First they try to change each other. Then they stop it when they come to taking one another just as they are, with all their flaws. That’s what true love is all about — he truly loves who stops trying to change the beloved. I know such people. It’s my parents loving each other for 40 years and, God willing, they will as long as they live. It’s my family and, by all means, my friends. 

For me friendship is tantamount to love. No doubt, my best friends are my parents, my two brothers, my wife and my children. I can always forgive them, no matter the fault, as they, too, will always keep me in their hearts just as I am, disregarding all my flaws. 

Dynamic is the world we live in, work demanding most of our time taking it away from other life areas and our loved ones. Though the famous saying does not recommend running before the running locomotive, we all have to do it. Nonetheless, the last thing I’d like to do is say I haven’t seen my friend for ages. I’ve discovered a good way to always stay in touch with those I feel at home with. I once changed my reality and started doing business with them. My major motivation is a good mind to rub shoulders & elbows with my friends. It’s my conscious effort, not a mere happenstance. This is how my boyhood chums and I manage to keep up a lifelong friendship. So I can always say I’ve been having fellowship with my friends for years. 

I don’t think truly nearest & dearest can be numerous. I do trust Avicenna’s advice not to befriend every Tom, Dick & Harry I meet or open my heart to any first comer.

Emotional bonds cement the relations of people sharing the same value system. What a pity it is to see preoccupancy preferred to emotional ties! I think getting one’s friends involved in one’s business is a solution. This is my way out of the dilemma, a lifehack I’m happy to share with others. I’m sure a chance to talk business with my friend has a lot more value than the business binding us together. We ask the traditional question “How are you doing?” quite sincerely, discuss business issues and at the same time remember the good old days thus keeping our lifelong relationship symbiotic. We often see each other and our business meetings continue as friendly get-togethers. It brings variety into my daily routine with some things not to my liking but to be taken care of. So I “dilute” business with my friends, so to speak.  

I don’t think truly nearest & dearest can be numerous. I do trust Avicenna’s advice not to befriend every Tom, Dick & Harry I meet or open my heart to any first comer. It so happens my early childhood and lifelong friends are my cousin, my second cousin and a man who’s not of my kin. They have always been my innermost circle and the Plaid of Nebulosity warming up my Personal Universe and guarding my peace of mind. We talk, exchange philosophical judgments to ponder on and are always there to support each other in hard times.

I can still trust people only thanks to my memories that are dearer to me than all the diamond mines of the world. My memory is sometimes tricky – the more distant an event, the better I remember it, much better than some recent ones. When children, my second cousin, Mom’s cousin’s son & a bosom friend of mine, and I used to go to the Tajikistani mountains. One day Uncle took us to his bee farm in Romit Ravine and taught us to shoot a rifle. Breathtaking mountain views and rifle in hand, my head was spinning round so I can’t tell which of us hit the target better. The romanticism of the mountains is truly unforgettable! When meeting, we always recall what it was like: shot, recoil, flying tin. Talking of such things kept in our common memory we live through the best moments of our childhood again. 

The more of the youngster we find, the happier we become.

I also have some new friends making my life more interesting as we get to know each other. Emotional intellect is one of the most important keys to success and happiness. A happy person is resourceful and able to perform much better in all life spheres. It’s happy people that change the world for better being strong enough for that. It’s of great importance not to lose this strength and the ability to make new friends though in time it becomes more and more difficult. Everyone’s life experience is “the child of endless errors most painful.” The more experience we gain, the less are we able to open our hearts and trust people. We have to keep back growing suspiciousness and cynicism ready to break out. As years pass by we become weary and hard-hearted. Meanwhile, to make new friends we must be simple and easy-going. For that we should look into our hearts to find the child, open-hearted and easy to make friends with, we all once used to be. The more of the youngster we find, the happier we become.

There’s no light without a shadow. If a friend turns traitor the best revenge is forgiveness. Taking offence is no good. The right thing to do is forgiving the offender. If the revengeful feeling is overwhelming it would best to act like the main character of Alexander Pushkin’s short story “The Shot” did. Seeing embarrassment in the traitor’s eyes is enough while becoming a slave of emotions and ruining the world’s harmony by harming the offender is not worth it. The betrayed is in pain one way or the other, but multiplying misery by hurting the traitor would be senseless as it cannot kill the pain anyway. I am as human as everybody else and have been betrayed. I met the challenge, as all others coming my way, standing tall and survived. It’s part of life, just like birth and death, we have to live through. There’s nothing dramatically tragic about it.

So I consider myself both Russian and Central Asian as the Tajiks, too, highly value friendship, hospitality and readiness to take off the last shirt and give it to a friend. In this respect we are brothers in spirit as to survive in cold areas like Russia and mountainous Tajikistan people must share their emotional warmth.

How do we choose friends? Good question! Just like kinsfolk we cannot really choose our childhood chums. As to those becoming good “fellow-travellers through life,” their names are, I guess, just written in the stars. I’ve lived in different countries meeting all sorts of people. I’ve come across very romantic and warm-hearted individuals among the Northern Europeans, such as the Slavs, the Russians especially. Judging by Yesenin’s and Pushkin’s poetry the Russians are probably the most romantic Slavs. The wonderful Russian Romantic Songs prove it too. Worthy of mention are readiness to trade half a kingdom for a stallion and play Russian Roulette illustrating the magnitude and broad-heartedness of the Big Russian Soul. Friendship means a lot in Russia. So I consider myself both Russian and Central Asian as the Tajiks, too, highly value friendship, hospitality and readiness to take off the last shirt and give it to a friend. In this respect we are brothers in spirit as to survive in cold areas like Russia and mountainous Tajikistan people must share their emotional warmth.

Other Europeans are not like this. I’ve been living in England for many years but have only one long-time English friend. Among my friends are also an Italian from Naples and a Pakistani from Islamabad. Anyhow, most of my friends are Russian-speaking as we share the same value system and our souls are similarly big and broad-hearted.

Friends are a family of choice. Every friend is a responsibility as you must be always ready to help him. It’s another reason for not having many friends. Single and childless people can have more friends while those with big families cannot spare much time for their friends. This is a basic anthropological law.

Some people are good at entertaining hundreds at their celebrations. It takes an extravert to do that. I’m not an introvert, but crowded banquets are not my cup of tea as I can’t pay enough attention to each guest. I’d hate to spread myself too thin and feel bad about it. My maximum is a party of six. It’s the people helping me to find a meaning in an old photograph, in their voices on the phone or in the latest hit they send me via WhatsApp.