These two words, 다양한(多样), basically points to the variety of friendships which we enjoy in this world, some of which can potentially be as good or as bad as any other relationships, such as family ties and romance. Like any other human relationships, friendship is not static and can change over time. I have had my fair share of friendships which have remained the same, and grew stronger or better with time, because of a sharing of common interests and faith, as well as friendships which changed so much that at times, even if termination or ending them is not the outcome, then we end up becoming so estranged such that there is probably next to no (or little possibility) of us even talking ever again or meeting again.

But friendships are about as complex as other human relationships, and at times, as part of the process of love and forgiveness that I have been learning, sometimes, we are called to forgive them once again and to try our best to rebuild the whole friendship from scratch. It does not necessarily mean that things will return to the way they were in the past, because that will never happen. Far from it, it is the profound recognition that because the violation of trust and betrayal is deep (배신 정말 깊은고 아파요) , the wounds and scars incurred from them will remain and sometimes even hurt more when we learn to face and accept them. That is part of the cross in life we have to bear, the thorn inside our very own flesh. Some people will never actually be able to change to become a new person even after having learnt to forgive or to try to do so, because to them, they hold on too much to all the hurts. They transform into worse people to insulate themselves against the world, building their own little physical cages. These cages can be found in the forms of the way we dress, the way we pay attention to our looks, such as our figure or physique, our skin and hair, and even things as simple as our clothes and apparel, or even makeup and toiletries. 메그업이 가슴의 슬픔을 숨김 할 수 있다 (“아내의 유혹”) (“Makeup is capable of hiding the heart’s inner sorrows.” This saying comes from the character of Goo Eunjae inside the drama series, “Wife’s Temptation”.)

I only came to realize after this move to Japan how in fact some of the friendships which we have to take a break from are ironically better than those which we thought we tried to keep but turned out changing beyond recognition. We either grow out of these friendships, because of differing values, or we just end up feeling as life does not really seem to stay static the way we were hoping at times. Years back when I was in my job as an editor, I had a friend who just voluntarily terminated the friendship after I (and he as well) was late for one meeting, and there was no explanation whatsoever. The email for termination in fact seemed mean to the core and spiteful, and when I bumped into him again on the streets, the look he gave me was in fact a terrible SNARL, as if I was some heinous sinner who had killed someone, when in fact, I did not understand the justification for it at all. There was another friend, a female at that, whose friendship with me was for over 10 years since 2000, but which just ended without ONE WORD at all. I did what I had to do to notify those back in Singapore that I was leaving it permanently and that I would be in Japan and then Korea after the contract ends. All that message got was no response at all. I guess our value systems have changed to the point that in fact I cannot actually tolerate her and neither her me. I am not a materialistic person and I hate her guts for speaking nonsensical stuff which lacks thinking such as that “even prostitutes work hard for their money in a way” (no one in the right mind will say this because it betrays a really terrible view of humans), and plus, she is literally mean to everyone and full of herself, more so the guys. Talking to such a person could probably be more toxic than anything else. I won’t need to name her name, and I doubt that she would even want to talk to me, since our friendship ended without any notice to begin with. I reconciled or re-established contacts with a few friends from my past, and although I know conscientiously that the friendship(s) might have changed, it is not a bad thing at all, because at least there is the acknowledgement that it will be possible to rebuild things with an awareness that things must be lived in the present with a view to the future, instead of any mere sentimentalism towards the past.

With a view to rebuilding the friendships which I know have been badly damaged, I cannot say that I am fully confident that such friendships can be rebuilt to the same strength that they were at in the past. But it is the chance I have to take. More so, I know that if I have ever kept the mindset of “being sinned against more than sinning”, as captured in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, then perhaps, I am operating from a legalistic mindset which sees all human behavior in terms of rightness and wrongness via the structure of accounting and checks and balances. Essentially, this is not the same as the Christian message of unconditional acceptance and love.

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