The word forge is a beautiful one in the English language. It has two predominant meanings. The lesser known meaning is ‘to make or produce something strong, especially with difficulty’ as in something like iron grills. The other, popular meaning that comes first is ‘to make an illegal copy aimed to deceive’. This is the first meaning that comes to our mind, because in some way it has been made popular by the word ‘forgery’.
So… does the meaning of the phrase ‘forging friendships’ change accordingly? We’ve all taken it subjectively, meaning it in the best possible sense. Making sure that friendships are forged with all the seriousness of a toddler’s pinky promise is one of the prerequisites we must follow. No seriously! Have you seen a toddler make a pinky promise? They hold on to it with a single minded determination and honor it completely. There is no doubt in their minds that the promise must be upheld at all costs, and the emphasis they lay on the promise is endearingly thoughtful.
Of all the lessons adults could learn from toddlers, it is the lesson of not complicating things. Their world is simple, and there are no essentially manipulating games that can be played between kids until some adult decides to interfere and create issues where there were none. As we grow up though, we do that job ourselves. There comes a sudden need to overanalyze every action, overthink every reaction.
Forging a friendship is the easiest. There are only four parts.
Find a person we like,
Introduce ourselves and become friends,
Discuss common likes, dislikes, spending time to build the friendship
Mess it all up by being overcritical, trying to set boundaries and limits.
The incredible ability to mess up simple things is something only humans are capable of doing. It is a rare blessing no other species has been blessed with. Like how the strictest parents raise the most effective liars, the overthinking and second guessing quickly drives a wedge in between what was once a strong relationship.
The best of understanding relationships have been ruined by lack of trust and the ability to just ‘let things be’. The need to own a friendship, to establish firm boundaries and set limits, always increasing the level of expectations and constantly wanting them to be met are the worst things that can be inflicted upon a beautiful and mature relationship. There is no single moment in which a friendship ‘breaks’. There is only the proverbial last straw on the back of the camel.
The accumulative feelings of disorientation and confusion lead to a constant build up of emotions that burst out when the threshold is reached. The friendship then takes one out of two turns – it either breaks completely, or takes on a forced quality.
The former is better in some ways – thankfully, there is no longer a need for pretense or any unnecessary drama to be involved. The pain is initially like a rusty serrated knife cutting through muscle but with time the ache dulls and finally numbs until a point where it can be controlled and pushed to the corner of a mind, only to be perused at dark times or as a sudden memory that assaults when some long forgotten thing happens.
The latter option though, is the harder, nastier route. The friendship takes that dreaded route of pretense, forced conversations, like lugging around a sack of potatoes. It is heavy, draining and with time, becomes so tiresome. The balance scale quickly tips, with one person making all the efforts and the other person always looking for an escape route. There is the constant need to just keep the head afloat, not going down under, trying to forge at least an empty connection where there was once a beautiful understanding.
And all of a sudden, ‘forge’ means creating a duplicate of the original instead of building something strong. The word’s meaning change reflects the perspective shift of the friendship itself, thereby creating a void that nothing else can fill. The courage to cut things off is absent as the heart desperately tries to hold on to the past memories that were once the meaning of existence. And “hey, I’ve got to tell you this” becomes “Got a minute to spare?”
When forging friendships become forcing friendships, the meaning of the word is completely lost. The ‘friendship’ is now merely an arrangement where the people involved are stuck due to various reasons (including memories and mutual friends) and the sack of potatoes is a stagnant dead weight. The simplest life advice is to build things up organically, naturally. An additional thought is to have the eyes and heart open enough to understand when the vibe goes missing. The next course of action will then present itself automatically, like the answer that jumps into the heart when the tossed coin is in the air.
Here’s to not ruining one of life’s most meaningful relationships!