dal niente


The weather report this morning said that the high for the next couple of days will be -20 degrees Celsius.  I was on Gears of War 2 last night and I started chit chatting with a Texan who was just saying, “Fuck, if my nipples are harder than my dick, then I know there’s a problem.”

I ran into my friend JY online yesterday night.  He lives in Richmond (Vancouver, BC).  We’d worked a year together in SK and when I came back to Canada, I stayed at his place for about a week.

JY just got back from a month long family reunion tour of Malaysia and Hong Kong.  I asked him what his plans were now, and they were probably to go back to HK to settle down.

I’ve been throwing the word ‘family’ around a lot lately.  What’s the difference between family and friends?

I think that sometimes people get caught up in the practice of maintaining a perfect record.  For example, you’ve met someone who roughly attends the same social circle as you do, so you become aquaintences.  But for some reason, if the purpose of the circle disbands, you cling to the idea that so and so is still a friend of yours.

What makes a friend, really? The answers may be a lot more utilitarian than a Care-Bear’s rose colored glasses of the worldl might provide, and for some reason, some people think that realizing the utility of friends somehow soils the relationship.

Why should it?

I’ll make an example of playing in a concert band.   When you’re in a band, you’re probably going to make friends.  Music has a subtle way of showing trace amounts of the performer– if for some reason the relationships within a band aren’t tight, in that sense that they’re aiming for a common collective vision (usually guided by the conductor) then anomolies will surface.  Even if the crowd doesn’t notice, the people in the band do.  The music’s color reflects the emotions of the performers, and that’s why it becomes necessary for the relationships between them to be good.

But does it necessitate that everyone be friends?

No.  Being friends simply makes things easier because friends are generally willing to align or tolerate the disagreement ushered by your beliefs.

Does that mean that friends are simply people who you aren’t fighting with?

Maybe not even.  There have been people who I’ve known only by fighting with them, bother literally and figuratively, and i consider them some of my best friends.

Let me get back to this issue of the ‘perfect record.’  To recap one part of the idea, sometimes people make aquaintences because of a common group, but then, when that group disolves, they decide to do the upkeep work to maintain ‘friends’ status with the people who they in fact have no more ties to.

If I was concerned with maintaining a perfect record for example, suppose I know X, who is a friend of Y, who is a friend of my personal actual friend, Z.  X is more or less two degrees apart.  We might hang out together occasionally because of Y and Z, and we’re certainly not enemies, but that make us friends?

Socially I think the practice of ‘befriending’ the whole world has further been exacerbated by things like facebook, where the verb ‘to befriend’ has actually been replaced by the verb ‘to friend’ which is similar but not quite the same.

Don’t get me wrong– if friending someone opens up dialogue between people who wouldn’t normally speak, then all the better– a lot of the world’s problems, I honestly believe, would simply dissapear if more people just talked to more different people.

But I reserve a special status for the idea of a real friend.  X is just somebody I know– at best, a potential friend.

I often talked to Zanshin about this because while out in Korea, we sometimes got these little quibs from people back home who were making a big deal out of ‘no longer being friends’ or something because he and I weren’t going through the efforts to keep in close contact with them.  Which was strange, to us, because simply, those people never really did the friend things so much when we were back home.

And that’s what I mean by this perfect record thing– some people simply cannot deal with the idea that there’s anyone in the world who doesn’t consider them a friend.  I daresay that some people just don’t know what they want in friends, so they maintain the FB style ‘friends list’ in their heads, which in reality is just a list of people who they ‘know.’

To me, friendship really is a lot more utilitarian.  I use my friends and they use me.  People make this sound really cold, but really, the respect with which you treat your friends reflects the kind of friend you are as well.

The usual fear of utilitarianism in the usual sense is that one starts to treat another like a means to an end, and then discard when it’s inconvenient.

Sorta like saying that the dude flipping at burgers will use a spatulla to do so, because making those burgers benefits him, but at the end of the day, he just throws it on the counter unwashed.

However, by the same line of thinking, there’s a difference in the utilitarianism of a McDonalds’ cookie and  Master Chef.

In the same way a musician takes good care of their instrument, a Chef ensures that his kitchen is clean, that his knives are sharp and that his ingredients are fresh.

It is not wrong to be a tool, if in the end, you all work towards something greater, is it?

And for those of you for whom this works, we can throw out a common phrase: “Instrument of God.”

Whether we believe it or not, even the modern meaning of ‘love’ happens to be genetically advantageous.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that this idea of maintaining a perfect record is kind of naive.  It’s nice to keep it going to turn potential friends into friends, but sometimes, people try too hard people who either will never be their friends or they put in too little effort to actually qualify as real friends.  They’re just people who ‘know’ eachother.

And even former true friends can diverge– that’s just natural.  People grow up, people change schools and jobs and cities and philosophies– it’ll happen.  Is the world so empty that you can’t find new people to befriend, that you must cling to the past even as you float away from it?

That said, lately I’ve been doing pretty well for myself I think.  Work training still has me stressed out because I don’t think that at this rate I’ll be able to master the tasks I need to master before set to hold the front line, but I’m trying to be optimistic by thinking that my new trainer won’t be as much of a bitch as my previous one.  I went to the “Welcoming Day” today, and that itself was kinda interesting in many ways, but that’s another post.

So, to summarize, not so cool things:

  • Trainer from hell.
  • Not enough time to learn what I need to learn before I am assigned to work alone.
  • -30 Celsius weather
  • -30 Celcius weather
  • I think I’ve been scheduled to work shifts two weekends, saturday and sunday, for two weeks in a row, but we’ll see about that.
  • I accidentally misread my schedule and skipped a shift of training (which contributes negatively to my already insufficient training), which my boss ain’t too happy about. (Ooops!)

On the flipside though, if I’m to count my blessings:

  • The job is growing on me, in that it’s moderately fun (though I have to pace myself, because at my current franticness to get shit done I can see myself burning out very quickly)
  • My physique and technique have readapted to badminton (no more aches and pains the day after!)
  • New trainer (due to different shift) starting tomorrow.
  • That really bad neck injury I got in taekwondo just a month ago? Now it’s completely gone, and I haven’t noticed any relapses!  (Yay for no relapses!)
  • I earned my second echelon (rank) in Gears of War 2 (if you play on Xbox live, look for the username Tcjinryu and we’ll chainsaw duel together).
  • I’m eating more healthy again, and more or less regularly.
  • No less than two entire bottles of soju have arrived from Korea, courtesy of Zanshin.

The final score is 7:6 for “Good Things” going on, so all in all, it ain’t flawless, but then again, what should be? Today is won, as far as I’m concerned.