One of the great tragedies of modernity, and a direct consequence of the rise of individualism is the fact that most men, at a certain period of their life, tend to let all links to their past rot and break. The modern man seeks to be free, and thus he makes the mistake of letting himself be detached from everything that might still tie him to his past. He seeks to be born anew every few years, and thus he lets every memory of the journey he’s been in fade and ultimately dissappear. But a man’s past is worth remembering. A man needs to maintain some links to his past.
Nostalgia seems to creep in at some point in a man's life. The way modern life is lived too often means that we reach our peaks early: in highschool or college, before life has even had a chance to begin properly. This is one of the great tragedies of our days. We let ourselves be dragged into a life of dull monotony, we fill our time with worthless entertainment and small-talk, we become cogs in the gear of a system strategically designed to squeeze from us every last drop of profit.
We let our friends, with whom we've shared our deepest dreams and emotions, become strangers, to be met with for a cold, melancholic lunch if you manage to make your schedules fit.
There are few things sadder than hearing men talk about their golden years, reminiscing about how proud, strong, and hopeful they were before they let modernity kill them.
I've talked amptly about the importance of male friendships, and of exclusively male spaces. A man needs a group of men to judge him, push him, and inspire him to reach new heights. But more often than not, these groups don't appear out of thin air after a certain age. Yes, you can seek out likeminded men and form bonds with them. It is possible, and highly productive. But I think you understand that there is something inexplicable about the depth of the relationship that a man has with his friends of earlier years. These are peole with whom you've most likely shared a wide array of adventures, experiences and emotions. They’ve known you at your highest and lowest, and they have seen you change and evolve. You have lived years of playful innocence and pure, untainted joy with them. This is unique. It's powerful. It's irreplicable.
Old friends become more and more precious to us as the years pass. They can look at us for who we once were and who we are now, appreciating the difficulties we have overcome, the abilities we have acquired, and the ways we have stayed true to ourselves.
Not only do you need your old friends to remember your journey, and not only do you need a group of brothers to give some meaning and support you through to this chaotic life, they need you as well. The friends with whom you lived through most of your waking hours are at grave risk of falling victims to the isolation, loneliness and depression that haunt the modern man. They might not know that they need you, but they do, just as you need them. It's your responsibility to ensure that one of the most meaningful relationships that a man will ever cultivate stays alive, regardless of the distance between you, the unpredictability of your schedule, or how busy you are at your job.
It's not healthy to be one of the men that remain in the past, and let the only thing valuable about their life become their memories of old experiences. But to let your friends of old become like any other stranger is to completely eliminate from your life a one-of-a-kind relationship, one that cannot be replicated. You can find meaningful realtionships with other men through adulthood, but there is a distinct difference. Your old friends know another, very important part of you: your childhood and your adolescense. Your process. Your struggles. Your evolution. Whereas men that you get to know now will see you for what you are, those men that have been with you thrpugh every step of the way will see you for what you were and for what you are now, and they will understand you better than most.
Don't dwell on the past. Don't let your friends become strangers, but don't let them remain the same people they were ten years ago. That is also a guaranteed way of losing yourself in the labyrinth of life. Instead, seek out those brothers you have left behind (the ones that are worth reconnecting with, of course). Remember the years you shared. Make it a point and a priority to establish with them a group, dedicated and determined to live a full life, a life of growth, laughter and joy.
Maybe these friends won't agree with you on everything. That's okay. Most people won't. As long as you have some positive things in common you can start building a group of likeminded men that align in a few core values and recognize the importance of remaining friends.
Whatever you do, do not let your friends become strangers.
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