Goodbye. How many times have you said it? How many times have you meant it? How many times did you not want to say but had to? There are stories about Brussels; people come for a six-month internship and stay twenty years. Those are good stories. But there are lots of people who come for six-months, or a year, or two years, but then are gone again. They come into life here, in this city, drink deeply of it, but then they are off again. These are friendships that burn brightly and quickly, and they can be exhausting.
“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them.” — Bonhoeffer
What does it mean to be a friend? What does it mean to be in relationship with another person that is not familial nor is it romantic? What does it mean to be a friend in such a transitory society, where one month someone can be here, and in the next, they could be on the other side of the world? Is real friendship even possible anymore?
“All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”
The blessing and the curse of the human condition are the same: individuation. I am me, and you are not. You are you, and I am not. We each have our own internal life, a personal realm that is influenced and shaped by our experiences, feelings, family, and a host of other factors, but it is ours. In the words of The Truman Show, “You never had a camera in my head.” And no one ever does. In this sense, we are independent, but in this sense, we are also alone.