When The Night Has Come

"A friend will side with you when you are in the wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are in the right." Mark Twain
For the last 10 or so years my favorite song has been Stand By Me. Up until recently if you had asked me to sit down and reflect on why, as I'm doing now, I probably would have had little to say other than "I just do". It's always resonated with me, but never in a way I could explain or had experienced. Maybe a song like Stand By Me can never really be understood until a time when the sky that we look upon has tumbled and your life crashes in around you. When the dust has finally settled and you are able to look around at who is still near, the song sounds differently.

I think, on some unconscious level, this song has provided a model for friendship that I've never been able to articulate myself (not even in the 17 page word-document on my computer titled "Meditations on Friendship"). When I heard this song yesterday after riding along the bike path I felt like it had been planted in my heart to answer the question that has remained answerless for the last year: what is a friend?

As I listened, a very specific image came to mind, of a person I didn't know when I fell in love with this song when I was twelve, and who I barely knew when the mountains crumbled to the sea. I'm lucky to have a few people in my life who I consider "unconditional friends", the overly academic phrase I use to describe a sentiment so much better explained in the 3 minutes and 15 seconds by Ben E. King. They are the people I call now when my foundation gets shaky because they was there when they had no reason to be. Stand By Me, and the quote from Mark Twain, aren't about lip-service or about telling a person they're right when they're wrong. It's about sticking with someone when their flawed humanity is glaringly obvious.

Looking back on that time in my life, so much of the rejection and abandonment I felt was a product of the exact thing I wanted; it was just shared between people who stood by each other rather than standing by me. In realizing this, the hurt disappears because everyone deserves to have a person like that. And, it was leaving me alone that helped me find that kind of person myself.

I love Stand By Me because when I listen to it I know what real friendship is like. It lives in a person who let me live in their house when I was homeless, who came into my room when they knew I was crying, and never reminded me that those problems were a direct result of my actions. They loved me regardless and they saw the person I was, independent of what I did. With a friend like that I wont be afraid of what the world throws at me just as long as you stand by me.


  1. "It's about sticking with someone when their flawed humanity is glaringly obvious."

    how absolutely perfect is that and so true.

    i think i will listen better the next time i hear that beautiful song.

  2. it is true... I do love you.


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