In my opinion, there are 4 levels of friendships: intimate friends, friends, acquaintances and randoms. It’s OK if each party knows where the other party stands, but it gets a bit complicated when you’re both on an acquaintance level, but both of you think that the other person thinks that you’re intimate friends. There’s that awkwardness of wondering whether you should talk to a person, wondering how much you should share, wondering if you should pretend you need something in the Outdoor Goods aisle in the supermarket even though you live in a flat facing a brick wall on the 30th floor in the middle of Joburg CBD.
So I have an acquaintance like that. It’s kinda awkward, because we both know we are acquaintances, but we are both unsure where the other person stands. Anyway, one day, I randomly saw this person running dragging a tyre behind her back. I didn’t understand why they were carrying a tyre behind their back, but my immediate conclusion was that it’s a mating ritual in their culture that has been passed down from generation to generation. It’s not for me to judge someone else’s culture.
On another day, while walking on the road, I see this person. First thought to myself “cross the road Pat, you have nothing to say to her, she probably has nothing to say to you, and it’s going to be one of those useless How Was Your Vac conversations”. Then she looked at me “NO!”. Then I had to start thinking of something to say, how I’m going start the conversation, and the the urgent closing line such as “ummm, I’m actually in a hurry to the pharmacy to get some laxatives. It’s been a hard few days”.
We stop at each other and say “Hi”. Then there was that 5 seconds of AWKWARD silence, until I finally said “I saw you running with a tyre attached to you, is that the latest from Louis Vuitton?” To which she fake laughed at my joke (please note: the fake laugh makes awkwardness more awkward). She proceeded to explain to me how she’s an athlete, and training, and the tyre provides resistance to make her stronger, to which my initial thought was “Wow, some people do stupid things”. Running is hard enough, and now you want to make it harder by running with a black round thing attached to your back?
But sometimes one has to run with resistance to become stronger. And one of the hardest ways of doing this is loving other people. Not the Generations or Bold and Beautiful kinda love where someone says “Hey, I like your toenails, let’s make out”, but genuine love. The kind of love that is patient and kind. The kind that doesn’t envy, doesn’t boast and isn’t proud. The kind of love that isn’t self-seeking, not easily angered, and doesn’t have a scoreboard of misfires. The kind that protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres, always.
There are people that irritate me. People who complain all the time irritate me. People who I deem too talkative irritate me. People who I deem to quiet irritate me. People whose weaves I deem to cheap irritate me. But still, have to run with that tyre on my back and love them.
Resistance increases strength. Strength makes resistance easier.