10.07.2007,7:23 PM
Friends. What are friends? What is friendship? I've pondered that often this year.

Over the many decades of my life, I've known very few people I can consider good friends; very good friends. Part of that is my inherent nature as a loner, partly because I've had many reasons to be reluctant to trust people. I usually keep a line drawn and don't let people step over it. In the past, I've also made mistakes in whom I let step over that line and placed my trust in the wrong people. Lessons learned; I'm not infallible.

This year I celebrated the tenth anniversary of a friendship with my best friend. I've never had a good close friend that long. Not even close. I also lost a friend this year; well, I thought he was a close friend. I made a judgment error there. That entire fiasco hit me pretty hard. Too hard.

But I also discovered friends I didn't know I had. Honest, sincere, genuine friends. One of them pulled me out of a deep hole of despair and humiliation last April when I was in Tennessee. I had ridden off a cliff and smashed at the bottom. Stranded, desolated, and despondent; everything that could have gone wrong did. And he threw me a lifeline; no questions asked, no judgments, no berating. I was humbled; I learned a lot about friends and friendship that trip. I had lost one, and gained a new one; a genuine one.

My new friend, my 'big little brother', has had his share of bad fortune this year, testing his own values and strength. And he too has learned a few lessons about friendship and trust. We were both reminded that good and genuine friendships are those based on mutual respect, admiration for each other's virtues, and a strong desire to aid and assist the other person because one recognizes their essential goodness. They are not friendships simply of utility and pleasure, but friendships of the good.

Rare are friendships of the latter type, for people of this kind are rare. To lose a friend of the good,...... it is a tragedy.

Tomorrow my friend leaves on his own walkabout on two wheels: a two-week rideabout, on his own, alone. Stepping out of a life of recent turmoil and riding thousands of miles on his bike with his camping gear, his journal, a book and his thoughts.

He will be different when he returns. If he wasn't, then he never really left. But change is not always a bad thing. In fact, it is often good. During his trip he will see, do, hear and smell things, and think things.....they will all add different layers over the person he is now. It's called 'growing'. And when we stop growing, we may as well be dead.

This is *his* rideabout, and this trip will always stay with him, even after he returns home.

But he will not be alone. He has friends here who care about him. And we will be with him in spirit.

Ride on. And have the time of your life.
But please, return safe and sound.

Your friend,
posted by Macrobe
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