Social Indifference Can Make You Feel LikeYou are Constantly Being Overlook in the Friendship Lineup
It was a gloomy day in the forest. The sky was gray and there was a light mist. Near a stream that meandered through the forest a man could be seen squating next to a fire. His hair was disheveled and he had a scruffy beard. He was only wearing a pair of well-worn shorts. His upper body was tanned but dirty as though he slept out in the open a lot and had not bathed for sometime.
He proceeded to stuff a bush turkey that he had finished plucking with some berries and edible plants. Azariah had left his home with a heavy heart and a troubled mind in search of solitude in the wilderness. He stopped for a moment and his eyes went wide. He gritted his teeth and said in a barely audible voice, “Chains!” He looked at his two hands. In his mind’s eye he saw his wrists chained together with three chains. Azariah became deathly still as old memories assailed him.
He had been a caring and loving man with a strong desire for friendships. Realising his friendship situation was in dire straits he had organised some parties, barbecues and other activities all in the hope of enjoying the company of friends and most importantly he longed to find some good friends.
While there were some happy memories of those times people’s apathy, indifference and carelessness had been too much for him. He had begun to suspect that there was something wrong with him. While he got along well with everyone he noticed that people gravitated away from him and forged closer friendships with other people he knew. That he was nearly always overlooked in the friendship line-up.
He felt he had been fighting oblivion in the hearts and minds of people… and had lost terribly. The word “cursed!” escaped his lips.
“Greetings.” Startled, Azariah looked over to where the voice had come from. A tall man in his mid-40s dressed in brown pants, a light brown long-sleeved shirt and a green cape approached him. “I’m sorry to have startled you. I’m Theon. I have some bread and dried fruit to add to your meal if you are willing to share it with me.”
Azariah nodded, smiled and welcomed the stranger though he felt a little bit embarrassed about his current appearance. He was glad, however, to have some company for a change. Theon, as it turned out, was a wealthy nobleman who was visiting a group of monks in a monastery high up in the mountains.
During the meal they talked about many things. The nobleman’s estate, his vineyards and the people he knew. Azariah told him about his life back in the capital, his work as a merchant and his love of history and his collection of artifacts. After the meal, they sipped some of the red wine from the nobleman’s vineyard.
“Why are you here, Azariah? What troubles you?” The quiet that ensued was brief but almost deafening. “I could not take the world’s indifference to my friendship any longer. I have come here to try and find solitude and peace.” “Have you found it?,” asked Theon. “No, it eludes me. I am still deeply troubled.”
At Theon’s encouragement, Azariah proceeded to tell his tale of dissatisfying friendships. After hearing Azariah’s story Theon thought carefully for a moment. That Azariah had problems socially was no surprise. He was a short, unattractive man. There was something very plain about him and he came across as a little bit odd.
The Wisdom of Theon
Theon began, “To some, the world throws itself at their feet. To others, it barely gives a glance. Your efforts were commendable but not on a scale that would achieve the results you were hoping for. You have a big heart, Azariah, and an uncommon enthusiasm for friendships. It is no wonder that many friendships may feel somewhat underwhelming. Keep this in mind and you may find this new found perspective will help you come to terms with the low response of others.”
“It seems to me you lingered too long with a number of indifferent people and allowed their numbers to swell clogging up your heart. The great falling away you mentioned when you stopped taking the initiative with these people is normal even for popular folk. You must become more discerning with friendships and be a little more strategic in your endeavour.”
“People like you need to reach out more to others and have a constant stream of new people coming into your life till you have what you are looking for. Grow in knowledge and power concerning the subject of friendship. Set aside several months where you focus on this critical inch of your life. During that time go to different kinds of events and meet up with lots of new people.”
“Host your own events like you did before and invite those new friends you would like to know better. Seek out those who have already achieved their social goals and ask them to share with you their wisdom and insight on the matter.”
Theon smiled the warmth of which filled Azariah’s heart. “I must be off… Be careful not to be unfair to yourself, Azariah. Shallow friendships in the world are exceedingly abundant and you will find as I have that most people are incapable of being one’s good friend. A multitude of people will pass through your life and mine without giving it a second thought.”
“Have courage. The only way you will find peace is to face this challenge and conquer it. Go back to your city and speak with Ameliah the wine merchant. He is quite the socialite and loves to surround himself with friends. Tell him Theon of Namenia asks a favor. To share with you how to go about drawing to yourself the friendships you desire. Farewell!” With that he turned and walked away.
Azariah watched Theon and contemplated his words. His heart told him that the wisdom he had heard was right. He got dressed, packed his belongings and with a gritty determination he had not experienced before went back to his city.
The Chains of Azariah
The chains of Azariah. I know them well because they also bound my wrists for the longest time. The chains, however, did not prevent me from having friends, good friends or hosting large parties during Project Fellowship. Neither did it prevent me from having a great time and enjoying the company of other people. Even back at the beginning of Project Fellowship when I knew comparatively little the power of initiative alone was enough to draw lots of people to myself and my events.
The chains of Azariah are apathy, carelessness and indifference towards the one who is so bound. The Mr. Cellophane song in Chicago sums it up. “Mister Cellophane should have been my name. Mister Cellophane ’cause you can look right through me, Walk right by me and never know I’m there.”
In my life it proved persistent and resistant to attempts to break it’s power. On Friday, July 29 2011 I ‘saw’ them slip off my wrists and fall to the ground. I stood still and pondered on why. What caused this is not so easy to determine since I have been improving my friendship lot in life on many fronts.
My intuition tells me it’s partly because a number of people have shown interest in me of late. In fact, it happened right after I was invited to join two co-workers for dinner. It could also be the fact that this perception of myself was deeply seated in my psyche and therefore took a long time to dislodge.
If you have the problem I am writing about in this post keep refreshing your active friendship list till the level of interest in you generated by your friends is enough to free you of the chains.
If there are any other Azariah’s out there who have dealt with the pain of social indifference please share with us your story.
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