“If you need to know the measure of a man, you simply count his friends.”
– Ebeneezer Scrooge, A Muppet Christmas Carol
Scrooge is saying/singing these words at the end of the movie, after he has been reborn from a miserable, old miser into an open, generous, and, above all, loving person. His newfound zeal for life and love is so great that, where he was previously alone and solitary, he now finds himself surrounded by friends, more than he ever thought possible.
I want to remark here that there is very much a difference between being popular and having friends. Popularity is just a matter of charisma and how well one fits what others want. Friendship is a more lasting bond of love that doesn’t much care about either charisma or selfish expectation. It’s a tie forged between mutually open hearts which give warmth to each other. As such, I do believe that the number of friends one has, rather than a faceless horde of temporary admirers and selfish users and abusers, can be seen as an indication of what sort of man one is. In short, is he open and loving, or cold and alone?
Now, that does not mean that we all have to be obnoxiously outgoing in order to be happy. It just means that it is better to fill our lives with love, to give and receive it in turn. Some love others by being outgoing, and others love by quietly listening. Some show love by doing something, by helping out any time someone needs it, and others show it in simple gestures, a smile and a handshake. Some are there any time we need help, and some are simply always there, a shoulder to lean on or cry on.
There are all sorts of ways we can open up to and love each other, and one of the great endeavors of life is simply to find our way of so doing.
I like to think that, as removed and impersonal as the internet can be, I am opening my heart to the world in some way through this blog. Here, I share much of myself with all of you, my wonderful audience. I like to believe that a little warmth of some sort reaches out from me to all of you, and I am glad when a little of that warmth is returned to me. But the world is a very large place with a lot of people, so I fear my heart alone cannot warm every corner of it. The distance between hearts online is very real, though it can present a very convincing, even intoxicating, illusion.
But I can share my warmth more with those immediately around me. There’s my family, my coworkers, my neighbors, my friends at church, every one them having the same need for the warmth of love as I do. So I let my light shine in as many ways as I can think of, in helping out, in offering a few words of kindness and good humor, in listening and learning and sharing my thoughts (sort of like this blog), in spreading as much cheer as I have. It’s a modest contribution, I admit, but the point is that I try.
I am, in my degree, a friend to those around me, and I believe they are friends to me in return.
That is not a bad thing, ya know?
And I know that I have a few very good friends, my dearest friends, no matter the distance between us. I am supremely thankful for that.