re: Freedom Salad

If there’s an unexpected casualty across the next four years, I think it will be friendship.

One sunny evening a few years ago, I was sitting alone in my living room thinking about a menu that I had read. Particularly, I was thinking about the line that offered me a Freedom Salad.

I chuckled to myself. Freedom Salad. I opened a new e-mail and I wrote the subject line, ‘re: Freedom Salad’ and I wanted to send a message to someone about why I thought that was funny.

I couldn’t think of a single person to send that e-mail to. So I deleted the draft and continue to chuckle about it occasionally when I have nothing better to do.

Worrying? Yeh. Probably. But more than me laughing to myself at something that’s really not that funny, it set me thinking about friendship.

I don’t know at what point it happened to me, but I had crossed some kind of point in my 20s when it became hard to have as many friends as I once did.

It’s a fairly well recognised pattern that in university, your personal social network is quite large. And then graduation. And then moving cities. And then someone dies. And then there’s a marriage. And then there’s babies.

And then there’s far fewer friends left over.

I suppose one of the saving graces of this is that the people who are left are deep friends. People who you can look in the eye. People who will laugh heartily. Kin.

Many times, I find myself saying: ‘One of my big concerns…’ I have many. Political disengagement. Watching people rack up credit card debts seemingly unaware that those will come crashing down. Populism.

One worry that I rarely talk about with anyone, ironically, is that we aren’t connecting with one another anymore.

It could just be me, but I don’t think it is. The world seems so lonely. Everything happens so much.

And amidst all of our sharing on social media, our organising of networking events, our x and our y, I get the sinking feeling that we are relating on very shallow levels to one another.

Does this worry you?

Society is being divided at many levels. We are retreating. Our decreasing emotional proximity is the platform for the rise of political hatred.

Translating, distilling recent conversations, the confusion of the moment is: what’s up and what’s down?

In a world that is disorientating and dizzying, friendship, along with family, is a foundation that we can build upon.

Friendship is one of the best qualities of the human race. Our ability to form completely sincere, totally arbitrary relationships with one another and share the nightmare and ecstasy of the human experience.

The nightmare and the ecstasy.

I realised that my friendships would continue to fall victim to life if I didn’t do something. And so I made it a point to try to form more meaningful relationships. To invite people to dinner. To lend books to others. To let new people in. To move my primary social interactions offline.

Not sure where to start?

If you wanted to send an e-mail about Freedom Salad to three friends, who would they be? Start there.